Galeria Nara Roesler | São Paulo is pleased to announce Handmade
, the new exhibit by Vik Muniz, curated by Luisa Duarte. This third show at the Gallery sees the artist revisit past avenues and procedures with renewed strength in an acute, concise inquiry into the thin line between reality and representation, original object and copy. Featuring more than 70 works, Muniz casts aside all narrative tools as he lays bare the skeleton of his art-making process, all the while toying with viewers’ certainties.
“It always goes both ways. What you expect to be a photo isn’t, and what you expect to be an object is a photographic image,” Muniz ironizes. “In a time when everything’s reproducible, the different between the artwork and its image is all but nonexistent,” he adds.
During the research leading up to his recently released catalogue raisonné
, Muniz realized how he’d relinquished a recurring procedure from early on in his career, when he wasn’t as involved in photography: the manipulation of the photographic surface after the capturing of the image. He then proceeded to reembrace those strategies, redoing and adding to the photographs. The result is an anthology-of-sorts comprising old and recent projects alike – one that’s rather stimulating in these Biennial times. “It’s like a menu of the ideas that I’ve drawn on, a compendium of strategies exposed in a very simple way,” sums up Muniz, who is also working on the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, of which he is one of the directors.
The audience will not see, in Handmade
, artworks created from familiar images, nor references to mundane materials – both of which are staples of his output. Here, Muniz references the vast tradition of abstract art as he distills its basic formulae to create unexpected ways to meditate on the image and the object, the ambiguity of the senses, and the importance of illusion. Handmade
outlines the artist’s constant concern with transcending the symbolic dimensions of image.
An instance of an investigation that does not culminate with the action of photographing is Two Nails
(1987/2016), which is in a way a pivotal piece within Handmade , and one whose first version belongs to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Collection, in New York City. Strippeddown to a fault, the composition shows a sheet of paper hanging from two nails, one real, the other a photograph, creating a picture so ambiguous that it becomes impossible to tell the difference in a photo reproduction. “One must be facing the actual artwork. And even then, you won’t be sure,” Muniz stresses.
Apart from the paradoxical image-object relationship and the recurrent use of illusionist strategies – “Illusion is a key prerequisite in any type of language,” he ponders –, these artworks flirt with concept art and engage in intense dialogue with abstract, kinetic, and concrete art. Above all things, Muniz says, due to their shared interest in Gestalt theories, more specifically in the fields of psychology and science.
Repetition, rhythm, depth, spacing, the use of primary colors, or of subtle grey and black gradations are some of the central questions to abstraction that compose the alphabet that Muniz deals with in Handmade
. But that’s not all he does. He taps into the constructive vocabulary to once again call into question the statute of image in the contemporary world. “The exhibition shows a different artist that’s me nonetheless,” he concludes.
about the artist
Vik Muniz (b. 1961, São Paulo, Brazil; lives and works between Rio de Janeiro and New York) is distinguished as one of the most innovative and creative artists of the 21st century. Renowned for creating what he describes as photographic illusions, Muniz works with a dizzying array of unconventional materials — including sugar, tomato sauce, diamonds, magazine clippings, chocolate syrup, dust and junk — to painstakingly create images before recording them with his camera. His resulting photographs often quote iconic images from popular culture and the history of art while defying easy classification and playfully engaging a viewer's process of perception. His more recent work utilizes electron microscopes and manipulates microorganisms to unveil both the familiar and the strange in spaces that are typically inaccessible to the human eye. Vik Muniz began his artistic career upon arriving in New York in 1984, holding his first solo exhibition in 1988. Muniz has since exhibited at such prestigious institutions as the International Center of Photography, New York; Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona; Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rome; Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo; Museu de Art Moderna, Rio de Janeiro; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; and Long Museum, Shanghai.
His recent exhibitions and projects include Vik Muniz (High Museum of Art, Atlanta, EUA, 2016); Vik Muniz: Verso (Mauritshuis, The Hage, Netherlands, 2016); Escola Vidigal - 15 Mostra Internazionale di Architettura | La Biennale di Veneza (Venice, Italy, 2016); Une Saison Brésilienne | Vik Muniz at the Géraldine e Lorenz Bäumer Collection (Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France, 2016); Lampedusa, 56th Venice Biennale, (Naval Environment of Venice, Italy, 2015) and Vik Muniz: Poetics of Perceptions (Lowe Art Museum, Miami, 2015).
In December 2008, Muniz was the guest artist in the MoMA exhibition series Artist’s Choice: Vik Muniz
, Rebus. Muniz was also a guest artist at the 49th Venice Biennial, the 2000 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the 24th Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, and the 46th Corcoran Biennial Exhibition: Media/Metaphor
at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. In 2011, Muniz was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
His work is included in major public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. In 2001 Muniz represented the Brazilian Pavilion at the 49th Venice Biennale. Muniz is the subject of an Academy Award-nominated documentary film entitled Waste Land (2010).
about the curator
Luisa Duarte lives and works between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. She is and art critic and independent curator. Master in philosophy from Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP), she’s been an art critic at Jornal O Globo since 2010. She was member of the Consulting Board of MAM-SP for five years and the coordinator of the 28th Bienal Internacional de São Paulo’s lecture series “A Bienal de São Paulo e o Meio Artístico Brasileiro – Memória e Projeção
” (The São Paulo Biennial and The Brazilian Artistic Scene – Memory and Projection). She was the curator of Rumos Artes Visuais, Instituto Itaú Cultural, edition 2005/2006, and the editor of ABC – Arte Contemporânea”, Cosac & Naify, 2014, in partnership with Adriano Pedrosa.
about galeria nara roesler
Galeria Nara Roesler is a leading Brazilian contemporary art gallery, representing seminal Brazilian and international artists who emerged in the 1950’s as well as preeminent mid-career and emerging artists who dialog with the currents put forth by these historical figures. Founded by Nara Roesler in 1989, the gallery has consistently fomented curatorial practice while preserving the utmost quality in art production. This has actively been put into practice through a select and rigorous exhibitions program created in close collaboration with its artists; the implementation and fostering of the Roesler Hotel program, a platform for curatorial projects; and continued support of artists beyond the gallery space, working with institutions and curators in offsite shows. In 2012 the gallery doubled its São Paulo exhibition space, in 2014 expanded to Rio, and in 2015 opened in New York City, continuing its mission to provide the best platform for its artists to show their work.
Press release courtesy Galeria Nara Roesler.