The exhibition The Beautiful Earth, comprising three recent series of photographs by Vik Muniz, is presented simultaneously at Galeria Fortes Vilaça and Paço das Artes, in São Paulo. At Fortes Vilaça, Muniz shows the series Pictures of Pigment.
In this series, the artist took as starting point works of painters that include Caspar David Friedrich, Jean-Baptiste Corot, Franz Post, Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet, and Gerhardt Richter. In his ongoing review of art history, Muniz looks into the use of color as well as issues related to (idealized or idyllic) landscape submitted to the intervention of human individuals, their work or their leisure. In keeping with his own investigative method for building images with unusual objects, here the artist uses pigment, which is the very embodiment of color. His image-building process is quite meticulous, given that Muniz does not affix pigment on the support.
For The Icebergs, Muniz sought inspiration in the work of U.S. painter Frederic E. Church (1826-1900), whose production was propped on the representation of major natural spectacles as he painted natural landscapes, from the United States as well as other countries. In this work, colors are strategically combined to create a setting of a glacier under a multicolor sky with occasional golden tones that determine its lights and shades. Townscape Madrid makes mention to Gerhardt Richter (1932), the greatest living German painter, and depicts a dense urban setting drawn with only two colors: black and white. Streets and buildings are carefully detailed in this piece that is Muniz’s most geometric work. When viewing The Icebergs and Townscape Madrid, the spectator cannot keep from mulling over such current themes as global warming and the haphazard, unchecked growth of cities.
The series Earthworks will be presented at Paço das Artes. It comprises twenty two aerial images of large-scale drawings of clothes hangers, eyeglasses and keys that bulldozers executed on ore heaps and that subsequently the artist photographed from a flying helicopter. The series Pictures of Junk are photographs of drawings made with junk that include car tires, automotive and aircraft parts, bicycles and so on. The artist takes these items and arranges them on a warehouse floor in such a way as to represent mythical characters such as Narcissus, Oedipus, and Sisyphus, among others, when viewed from high up. In these three photo series, Vik Muniz investigates the human being’s relationship with the natural landscape and its representation in culture. From his absolutely original and creative vantage point, Muniz works with improbable media to render one of the most relevant issues of the present time.
At the opening of the exhibition, Vik Muniz will be dedicating the book Reflex, his maiden publication in the field of theoretical thought, published by Cosac Naify. This book originally published in English by Aperture Foundation, in the United States, is richly illustrated with the author’s works as well as with images that served him as references.