Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Bold & Surprising at Jane Sauer Gallery

NEW BOLD & SURPRISING is the title of the group show of new gallery artists now represented by Jane Sauer Gallery. The artists are John Dodd, Krista Harris, Patrick McGrath Muñiz and Kent Townsend. Two are painters and two are furniture designers. Krista’s paintings are abstract while mine are figurative. All four artists having very different backgrounds make this show an interesting combination of distinctive creative explorations. Here’s a little more about the work of each of us:

John Dodd designs contemporary furniture that simply and elegantly performs its function. “My furniture does not try to define the difference between art and exists quietly between the two. Known as Foyer Greetings, these pieces are designed to serve as backdrops for precious objects, collections or living plants.”

John Dodd
Quartered Wenge, concrete
33" x 60" x 12"

Krista Harris is a modernist painter whose work has roots in abstract expressionist traditions, yet embraces a style that is uniquely her own. Elegantly composed and delicately balanced, her work has a mesmerizing quality. Shapes and lines appear to morph in and out of focus, colors shift like seasons, and subtle imagery whispers beneath the surface.

Krista Harris
Acrylic on linen
48" x 36"

Patrick McGrath Muñiz is a painter whose work “responds to our global age with its current crisis and prevalent mythology. I have created an anachronistic imaginary world where pagan gods, heroes and saints are resurrected from the vestiges of a post-industrial landscape. My work opens up a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of questions about how we got to our present global condition. I paint on small ‘retablos’ adopting Renaissance and Baroque painting techniques.” 

Patrick McGrath Muñiz
Oil and metal leaf on canvas
36" x 36"

Kent Townsend creates one of a kind furniture representing a unique blending of the beauty, elegance, and materials of the natural world, and the creative spirit of one’s imagination.  Kent uses exotic woods and woodworking techniques rarely seen in modern furniture making.

Kent Townsend
Bubinga wood, handmade silver pulls
Ten sided torpedo legs
36" x 48" x 18"

The opening of this show will be this Friday, December 2nd, from 5 to 7 pm and the show will be up until January 6, 2012.

Jane Sauer Gallery is located at 652 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico. The gallery hours are from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am - 5 pm

For more information on the gallery and the artists please visit

Friday, November 18, 2011

Remembering Ramón Frade & his drawings

The exhibition Entre líneas: Frade y el dibujo contemporáneo (Between Lines: Frade and Contemporary drawing) at the Art Museum Dr. Pío López Martínez of the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey opened at the beginning 2011. 35 contemporary artists participate in this exhibition in homage to the Puerto Rican artist Ramón Frade and the creative process of drawing. Among these artists I’m participating with two of my drawings on paper: “Io Saturnalia” and “Arcadia”, both done in 2010.

Io Saturnalia (2010) pencil and ink on paper 12" x 8"

Last year while in Puerto Rico I had the opportunity to visit the museum and view some of the work of Frade I hadn’t seen before, like photographs, drawings and other studies this master painter executed for his paintings.  I consider it important to mention that Frade is not only considered one of the most important Puerto Rican painters of the past century but that he was also an exceptional draughtsman, architect and photographer. The experience was quite refreshing. In my opinion, the traditional practice with the painter’s trade of preparing preliminary sketches, taking photographs and drawing has been forgotten by many in the contemporary “mcculture” driven by immediate consumption of technically undernourished products with lack of content. In the exhibition Entre Líneas: Frade y el dibujo contemporáneo, the importance, soundness and validity of drawing as part of the visual repertoire and practice of the contemporary artist is quite evident.

Drawing, preliminary study and photograph by Frade

Frade's Study for El pan nuestro  (Our Daily Bread) 1905

During my visit I had a chance to meet with the curator of this exhibition
Mariel Quiñones Vélez. Mariel very attentively guided me though the museum and talked about the collection. I remember we talked about the importance of the process in art and preparing sketches for a work of art. It is one big important part that is missed by most people who visit a museum and see the works of great masters.  And it is precisely this vital part of the work of the artist that this museum does great justice by showing us drawings, preliminary studies, photographic material, documents and even the painter’s own palette, elements that are so revealing of Frade and his work.

Photo of the Puerto Rican painter Ramón Frade

Furniture, easel, painting palette and other objects from Frade's studio

Me with Mariel Quiñones Vélez, the curator at the museum

To end the exhibition Entre Líneas: Frade y el dibujo contemporáneo, the museum invites us to mingle with the participating artists on December 4th of 2011 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.  for reasons that are beyond me I will not be able to be there with all of you but I encourage you to visit the museum, see the works and meet these contemporary  Puerto Rican artists in a dialogue with the work of Ramón  Frade.  The exhibition will be held until January 10th 2012. During the holiday season the museum will be open to the public the following days from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.: December 27th to the 30th & January 2nd to the 4th & the 7th & 8th of 2012. Starting from January 9th the Museum will be open with its regular schedule.  For more information you can call 787-738-0650 or senda n e-mail at 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

From Saints, heroes and corporations: Archetypes in evolution

In recent years my work has been evolving not only technically but conceptually.  From my paintings of saints and corporations to the study of mythological subject matter and now astrology, there has been a guiding force behind this creative impulse.   It has been relatively recent that I have gown aware of this guiding force that is far more important than it’s time/culture based visual expressions.  I have come to the conclusion that saints, heroes, gods,  monsters and even corporations today are children of something called an "archetype”. I include corporations because our government considers them as people. Personally I see them closer to act like gods or monsters.

An archetype is a transcendental energy that finds expression in various human forms and also in nature. It is a cosmic energy therefore it is beyond humanity. In astrology we see them as constellations and planets that act upon our lives. In many religions they take form as deities or saints. In popular culture we see them in their most trivial and superficial forms as pop stars and corporate mascots. Archetypes can be found everywhere and they inhabit our inner being.  In nature different animals are possessed by these archetypes and for this reason many animist tribal religions see them as guardian spirits.

By studying historic, mythic, religious and contemporary narratives long enough I have discovered recurring pattern that enables me to point out the interconnectedness of it all. As an artist I find this quite fascinating and a tremendous source of inspiration. In 2006 I started painting catholic saints and re’contextualizing these In the light of our neo-colonial consumerist culture. I started to wonder about exploring other possible forms. Eventually in 2010 I grew interested in painting heroes and gods from classical mythology.  After reading Cosmos and Psyche Intimations of a New World View by RichardTarnas I was drawn in to the study of archetypal astrology.

By exploring myths I found much relevance in astrology as the myths find concrete expressions in our culture today. Greco-Roman Mythology still lives on in our calendar, the days of the week, our zodiac wheel and they are very much alive in us  and all aspects of society whether we are aware of them or not. Today I’ve taken the task of compiling an inventory of images from religious iconography, mythology, astrology, Tarot and twelve top global issues and putting them together in one of many charts that I make with the intention of determining the underlying archetype.  To find their correspondences and relations has become my main focus in art.  It is becoming evident in my latest project Mcolonial Citizen. I will soon share more on my explorations on this subject and my latest project.

All images in this entry are taken from the drawing journals of the author. Copyrighted material 2011.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Painting Today, What does it mean?

In an age of fast food, fast cars fast information and advanced technology, why paint? What is it that drives me to dedicate my whole life to such an antiquated practice that involves the use of long sticks with animal hair glued on the tips picking up mineral pigments suspended in oil and applying and moving this substance around and over a piece of wood or linen. Doesn't this seem awkwardly out of touch and sync with our times? There are many ways to see this issue but this has been a question I've had for some time and still I keep painting. Maybe I already answered the question without knowing it.  Of course I’m not the only one or the first to ask the question of why to paint today.

Me at my new studio in Savannah, Georgia

I remember this question really caught my imagination in a class I had at SCAD (where I did my M.F.A. in painting). The class was “Painting theories and processes” and it was taught by Professor Craig Drennen at that time. The question took me by surprise and everyone had different responses to it but what mattered most was to stop and ask why. Conceptual art delves much into the “why’s” and there is much to be learned from this simple question. Painters seldom ponder on the nature of what they do but those who do, benefit greatly from possibilities the answer may award. Many arrive to a satisfying conclusion and solid justification of why they do what they do but often have to go through a period of crisis before seeing the light. It is like entering a dark cold cavern and feeling lost and hopeless for a moment but then by persistence we may see the light at the end of the tunnel. In this cavern we may find the remnants of primitive civilizations and some of the first images made by man: paintings. By re-discovering this perpetual mystery one may be possessed by the magic, the ritual and initiation involved in the first human creations. There is something ancestral, hidden and mysterious about painting.

Cave paintings at Altamira, Spain

We can stand in awe of a masterpiece and there is a catharsis. Our imagination flies and then after a while everything falls into place, everything makes sense, just like a divinely inspired sermon on the mount. We understand, not in a rational manner but in a much more profound way.

Allegory to Prudence (2011) By Patrick McGrath Muñiz
On display at Antigua Galeria de Arte, Guatemala.

Today we are surrounded by technology and our lives seem pressed between quick consumption and working hard, making money to pay the bills. Now everything is downloaded, streamed or paid online. There are apps for everything and simulating reality on our I-phones is our means of understanding reality Life really changed with digital cameras, Photoshop, U-Tube, Facebook and our own blogs or websites. Now anyone can be an artist, writer, movie director and photographer. So where does painting fit into all of this? Even though painting has been manipulated, digitalized, uploaded, posted and downloaded, there is an essential part of painting that remains resistant to change.  There is a crafty hard-labor element about it. It requires patience, persistence and lots of different skills. Yes, there is more than one skill involved in the act of painting and many take painting as just one skill. Some of the many skills are: Drawing, composing, mixing, conveying the illusion of the third dimension (for figurative painters), creative thought, conceptual analysis, decision making and critical thought. And I’m not even mentioning all the commercial skills involved. 
My painting palette

So for those who think this is just an easy pleasant hobby-like task, think about these skills as those required for any other job. Just think of how much work goes into a painting and how easily dismissed or unnoticed it goes by the general public. Many of my paintings require days, even weeks to create. It is not uncommon to see people go by and look at a painting for less than a minute. Have TV commercials, that last less than that, injected ADHD into our minds? Or maybe it’s the 15 minute ones on U-tube.  Did I mention paintings require attention skills also?

Detail of one of my paintings "The Judgement" (2009)

By painting today I reaffirm my connection to the past, I re-connect to my primitive ritualistic origins. By painting as opposed to taking pictures with a digital camera and manipulating them in Photoshop, I insist in the importance of hard manual work in creating a unique piece of art. Even though I take many pictures, work them in Photoshop and do collages, I see these as means to an end and my end is to produce a painting.  I respect the work of digital artists and photographers as they have developed their own set of skills to make their work. Painting on the other hand is not a product of our time or recent history as photography, digital art or even conceptual art.  If one wishes to know what the meaning of painting is just have a look at the history of it and that will give you a very good sense of it. By painting today I invoke the inner abstract landscapes of the modern psyche, the spiritually elevated landscapes of Impressionism, the Baroque Catholic saints, the neo-Pagan gods of the Renaissance, the ancient Egyptian mummy portraits of Fayum and the magical animal spirits of Altamira.  Painting transcends because it deals with the spirit inhabited in matter and brings everything back to life. Without painting, we would be deprived of a vital part of our humanity. This is the main reason why I paint.
Working on my most recent project "Mcolonial Citizen" twelve retablo paintings about social inequality in  our Neo-colonial times, subject that I will write about on my next blog entry.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New website ,studio and gallery representation

Hi everyone! Its been a while since my last post. A lot of things have happened since then and I thought it was about time to get back to blogging which I miss doing. I have been busy with new projects in a new studio located in Savannah, Georgia where I know live. All the recent changes in my life have been quite positive and have inspired new thoughts in my creative process as a painter. The new studio I now work in has excellent north lighting and great working space. I am already painting a lot more here.  I should also take the opportunity to announce I now have new gallery representation at Jane Sauer gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Jane Sauer Gallery is a highly active and professional art gallery with an excellent reputation that has offered me an opportunity to show my work in NM and I am very grateful for that.  

Tree of choices (2011) Oil and metal leaf on canvas 
36" x 36" work available at Jane Sauer Gallery

As for my new website, my wife helped me a lot with that and you can  now visit it at  
I will be posting more information on these new projects I am working, previews of new work as well as of future shows and specific paintings I have worked on this art journal. Please feel free to comment,  or post any question or suggestion you might have. I am currently very active working in my new studio, reason why I have been away from this blog and even Facebook. But I'm back and hope to be sharing my reflections and artwork with you through this media once more. So until next time, have a wonderful week and look forward to my future posts!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Re-Inventing Icons: Revising Christian Iconography

As part of my upcoming solo show "Re-Inventing Icons" in Antigua Guatemala, I have revised my personal research on Colonial Iconography. Nearly five years after my Thesis project "Iconsumer", where I explored the relationship between Latin American Colonial imagery and consumer culture propaganda, my work has evolved.  In recent years I've been more interested in the esoteric meaning behind art. Reading about Mythology, Astrology, Tarot and Alchemy has led me to the inevitable conclusion that behind Roman Catholic imagery and mass-media/consumerist propaganda, there are recurrent themes and patterns that become more visible after some study and comparison. After re-interpreting these images in paint, I have detected a constant re-invention of certain universal archetypes. Archetypes are the primary source that shape all the forms in the world no matter what time or country we live in. The archetypes are the universal souls breathing within any mythic, religious, contemporary figure or image one may encounter.  For example the "Venus/Isis" archetype can be clearly projected upon famous female celebrities and models on TV as well as on the image of the Immaculate Conception. 

"As above so below" 28" x 52" (Oil on canvas 2010)

By learning which common archetype lies behind any image brings new light to understanding the complex relationship and recurring themes present in past and present art. In my research I have gathered images that have served as visual agents in service of the interest of Colonial and Neo-Colonial powers. By Neo-Colonial powers, I mean modern-day transnational corporations with their mass marketing and consumerist agenda. Drawing the line from our present world culture to colonial and ancient cultures in these painting evokes themes that are timeless and transcendental. The idea of finding deep similarities between consumerist imagery and religious imagery has extended on to Colonial and Neo-Colonial issues in my recent project "Re-inventing Icons".

Allegory to Temperance 20" x 20" Oil on canvas (2011)

In this project I explore and re-interpret the traditional representation of Christian Icons, mythological and allegorical subject matter. This is done in the light of contemporary neo-colonialism from mass-media culture and consumerism. My work is the meeting point of 4 cardinal ideas: Colonialism, Neo-colonialism, Mythology and Religion. Inspired by the symbolism and imagery of these, I depict Icons that evoke the underlying primary archetypal energies that have influenced our world. Adopting Renaissance and Baroque oil painting techniques enables me to emulate indoctrination strategies that recall the time of the conquest and colonization of the Americas. This allows me to question today’s assumptions of the demise of colonialism with its ideological agenda.

"Globadoracion" 48" x 48" Oil on canvas (2010-11)

The opening to the exhibition "Re-Inventing Icons" will be held on June 4th 4, 2011 at La Antigua, Galeria de Arte. The gallery is located at 4a. Calle Oriente no. 15 La Antigua, Guatemala. The exhibition will be up until July 3th, 2011. If you happen to be in Guatemala or plan to be in Central America near those dates, make sure you don't miss the show. For more information you may visit the gallery website at:
Or visit my official website at:

You can also find additional information in Spanish and English at the following links:
Agenda Cultural de Antigua
Siglo 21 de Guatemala

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Legacy of Campeche

The second half of the Eighteenth century was a period of radical changes in the European and in the colonies of the "New World". Politics, Science, society, the economy and the arts all saw important changes. The mid 1700's is the time when the seed of a major revolution in human consciousness was being planted and the age of enlightenment was about to be born. The modern ideas of democracy, freedom and industrialization were about to launch us into a brave new world in the arts, science, politics and society as whole. While Francisco Goya was becoming a successful painter in Madrid and Amadeus Mozart a famous court musician in Salzburg, a young painter named Jose Campeche was actively working in the Spanish colony of Puerto Rico. Born in 1751, a self-taught mulatto artist, Campeche adquired a high level of mastery in the art of painting that soon became legendary in the region. Today he is considered by many as best painter of his time living in the Americas.

Portrait of Jose Campeche

Commemorating the life and work of Campeche and bringing new light into his work, The Art Museum of Puerto Rico recently opened the exhibition: "Campeche: Myth and reality",  In this exhibit we may find original works from the first known Puerto Rican painter, from his early works to his later more mature works after the influence of Luis Paret, a Spanish court painter who was exiled in the island for a short period. The collection is truly outstanding although it may be disappointing in some respects. For instance some of the works in display are not originals but prints that do not make justice to Campeche's work. But overall the work gathered for this display gives a very good sense of this colonial master's achievements. This temporary exhibition will be open to the public all year.

Virgen del Carmen con niño por Jose Campeche

 The Art Museum of Puerto Rico has also organized a parallel exhibition titled "Campeche: 200 years later". In this group show, twelve contemporary artists have re-interpreted the work of Campeche in what can be seen as an homage to the master but at the same time bringing up contemporary issues into his work. Rafael Trelles, Carlos Mercado, Garvin Sierra, Rigoberto Quintana, Antonio Martorell, Carlos Irizarry, Jorge Soto Sánchez, Jorge Zeno, Josué Pellot, Lorenzo Homar, Rosa Irigoyen and myself  are the artists participating with our work in this exhibition. We all share in common being contemporary Puerto Rican artists that have a deep admiration for  the work of Jose Campeche.

Sanctus Mater Silicona by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

   One of the paintings I am exhibiting at the Museum is titled "Sanctus Mater Silicona". This oil on triptych panel is an appropriation of the many images of Madonna with child  that Jose Campeche would have painted in his time. In this piece as well as in many others I have painted after this one, I have been inspired in the different perceptions of female beauty from colonial times to our own. 
In a smaller painting "Allegory to Patriotism" I appropriate a piece from Campeche "Retrato del niño Juan Pantaleon" and imbue it with a new meaning relevant to the current prevailing imperialist pursuits. Since my thesis art project "Iconsumer" in 2006, I have been studying the work of Campeche and other Spanish colonial painters as I see an interesting connection between their times and our own. It is always good to look back at the past and not only learn how these great painters worked but also learn from the times they lived in and how they responded to it. Eventually with much study and reflection one can find many similarities between our time and theirs.  Beyond the obvious colonial paradigm of Puerto Rico, the whole world is subject to  a new colonization by consumerism, the corporate media and Imperialist exploration. As a painter living in a Neo-colonial age I always find much inspiration in painters as Jose Campeche and hope more people re-discover his magnificent work.
"Campeche: 200 year later" will be on display until May, 8th 2011 so try not to miss it. For more information on Museum location and hours visit the Museum homepage at:
To see more of Jose Campeche's work online you can visit the ICP National Gallery webpage
If you wish to see more of my work online please visit my official website at

Monday, January 10, 2011

"Know Thyself" The most important art lesson of all

According to the 2nd century AD  Greek traveler and writer Pausanias, there was an important inscription on the forecourt of the temple of Apollo at Delphi. The inscription could be read by anyone who came on their long religious pilgrimage searching for answers and a look into the future. The inscription read: γνῶθι σεαυτόν "Gnothi Seauton" In Latin it would be "Nosce te Impsum" or "Temet Nosce" which translated to English means: "Know Thyself". This aphorism appeared on an inscription over the Oracle's door in the Matrix film series.

  Over 18 centuries later many philosophical schools commemorate these words of wisdom. As an artist, a self-portrait comes to mind. Many artists in the past were aware of the importance of knowing oneself, not just on the outside but in the inside as well. At the moment we create art, we make a psychological self-portrait, whether we are aware of it or not.  By being aware of it, the creative act can become an act of healing and self-realization.  It is to no surprise that the famous inscription "Know Thyself" would be found on the ancient temple to the god Apollo, god of healing, inspiration and solar illumination. The inscription did not end there and there would be no room for misunderstanding as the complete sentence would read: "Know thyself and thou shalt know all the mysteries of the gods and the Universe." (Σαυτὸν γνοὺς καὶ πάντα γνώσει τὰ τῶν θεῶν τε καὶ τοῦ κόσμου μυστήρια).

Ancient temple at Delphi, Greece

There is much wisdom in these words and when one reflects on the Hermetic philosophy of correspondences, everything comes together making perfect sense. The Hermetic axiom "As above, so below" refers to the relation between the stars and the heavens with man and Earth. We are a microcosmic reflection of the microcosmic Universe. If we study and learn more from ourselves, we will surely know more about the Universe as a whole. If the practice of astrology has been seen for centuries as the alchemy of the stars and alchemy as the astrology of earthly materials then we may say that by knowing ourselves we will know more about the gods. In a way the gods live in us and its up to us to discover them by looking deep within ourselves.. Call them gods, great spirits, archetypal energies, they are very real and are as much alive in us as they are in the whole Universe. God is the many in one and the one in many. God cannot be limited by one number, therefore God and gods are in my view essentially the same.

"A tribute to Venus: Peace and Love"  By Patrick McGrath Muñiz 
24" x 26" Oil and gold leaf on carved wood 2010
Work Available at Mindy Solomon Gallery, St Pete, FL

When it comes to the so called "Contemporary art world" I have to wonder how much are contemporary artists aware of  their own identity.  How often do they question who they are, their past and where they come from?  Plagued by a consumerist trend driven society and a sensationalist media culture mentality , what many call "contemporary art" seems to be playing the same illusory capitalist game of fame and fortune that determines whats "in" and whats "passe". They use prejudiced modernist assumptions of whats contemporary and whats not. "Originality" has lost its original meaning when its associated with hyped ultra-sensational shocking and disturbingly unique works that cry out for media attention. Spanish Architect Antoni Gaudi would have known better. "Originality" derives from the word "Origin". Originality is a search for our origins, it is to know who we are and where we come from.  Originality is also about questioning the hidden presumptions about ourselves. History is constantly revised.

"Divine Inspiration" by Patrick Mcgrath Muñiz
23" x 15" Egg Tempera on amate paper 2010

What are the artist's motivations in art and in life? Is he or she doing art  to gain celebrity status, or for the money (must be crazy), to "fit in" or be different, "original", create controversy and call the attention of the masses? Consider these questions. An artist who's just looking for recognition will have great disappointments in life when their work is rejected at an art show or when their Warholian "15 minutes of fame" are over.  On the other hand if you make art because it calls you, because you feel deeply inspired or because there is an important mission you must carry out, those gods within you will guide you. If you make art in order to understand the meaning of life, the Universe will open up to you. Art created for deeper convictions other than to please the public and profit will have a much larger reward in the long run, keeping the artist's work alive in history.

Detail of "A Tribute to Venus: Peace and Love" by Patrick McGrath Muñiz
Work available at Mindy Solomon Gallery, St Pete, Fl

2010 had many lessons for me as an artist. All of my experiences in art have been good because even those one could call "bad" aren't because they taught me something valuable. We learn from our mistakes and we are learning from experiences all the time.   Every experience in the life of an artist becomes a lesson when you think about it. From all the lessons I have learned so far I'm convinced there is a Master lesson above the rest.This Master lesson applies not only to art but to life as a whole. I still find myself learning from it everyday. The Master lesson is: "Know thyself". Because if you do, you will create art that is true to yourself and at the right time you will choose the right gallery, get into the right shows and even if you are not chosen or win any award, you will be happy because you know who you are and you know how good you are and you will just keep making art.  There will be no doubt in your mind that you were born for this. 

"Arcana 21"  by Patrick McGrath Muñiz
18" x 24" Oil on canvas 2010

I agree one should not make art to "fit in" but I think it is important to visualize yourself in the right places and with the right people, the ones you identify the most. If you study yourself long enough, you will notice that there is progress  in your work every, month, every year, every decade. Whenever I think of what lies ahead of me, I am very pleased because it keeps me focused. I try to do better each time and compare myself not with others but with myself before and I know when Im getting better. Dont' expect outside support and approval. Find it in yourself. By knowing yourself you also see your own limitations. You will eventually find ways of dealing with and overcoming those limitations. But remember: If you truly know yourself, you will know that the gods live within you. The Universe will open up to you if you take time to really know who you are and with the gods on your side, there are no limitations.