Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Happy Shopping Days

Io Saturnalia (2010)
Ink and pencil on paper 9" x 12"
by Patrick McGrath Muñíz
As we get closer to the winter solstice of 2015, many people across the globe get ready to celebrate the holidays.  In the West and spreading around the globe, Christmas is the supposed birth of Christ widely celebrated by modern day Christians. But the Christian tradition of celebrating Christmas on the Winter Solstice in and around December 25th has its roots in pre-Christian times. From Yule and the  ancient Egyptian cult of Horus, to the ancient Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Mythra, the winter solstice celebrations have gone through many transformations from culture to culture and throughout time.  Even though Christianity may be the predominant religion in the Americas, we live in an age of Consumerism and the obsessive pursuit of Capital. It requires an unfaltering and blind faith from part of the people to enable the current capitalist system to exist and work even if it's just in the imagination of the masses. The fiction of money and the doctrines of consumerism are made real when people believe in them, just like religion.
Hercules and the Virtues (2013)
Oil and metal leaf on panel 36" x 28"
by Patrick McGrath Muñíz
In an age where any holiday becomes the perfect opportunity to sell and buy stuff in large quantities, the Christmas tradition inevitably becomes an ideal occasion to introduce new gods and new rituals to replace the old one. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the winter festivities in honor of the pagan gods still had a strong presence and significance in Roman society. Since it became nearly impossible to ban these pagan festivals, they were simply replaced by the new Christian celebration. This did not occur overnight but gradually, therefore many of the  rituals of the ancient pagan religions were adopted and are still alive in the Catholic Mass and Christmas celebration (such as the merrymaking parties, decorated trees and the family gift-giving derived from the Saturnalia in honor of the god Saturn).
The Uninvited (2013)
Oil and metal leaf on panel 36" x 28"
by Patrick McGrath Muñíz
A similar phenomena is occurring right in front of our eyes gradually taking over the Christian tradition and replacing it with the sacred ritual of consumerism that holds money as the supreme one eyed, all seeing and "all can do" god. Today, the image of Coca Cola's Santa Claus, candy canes and the Macy's parade have become just some of the many consumer culture symbols associated with the Christmas season in the U.S. In Latin America, scenes of the nativity and the three kings are even more visible but they are slowly being displaced by the American symbols that act as new colonizers spreading the gospel of the consumer/capital religion.
Adoracion Capital (2014)
Oil on canvas 30" x 30""
by Patrick McGrath Muñíz
The visitation of the Magi is a very well known image cherished throughout Puerto Rico, Mexico and the rest of Latin America. So are many of the icons and consumer culture elements depicted in the painting Adoración Capital. An “Old fashioned” Quaker Oats man and Aunt Jemima, well established corporate entities pose as the holy parents to a new generation of consumers driven by technology and non material goods existing in cyberspace. The protagonist child wearing a “Che Guevara” t shirt seems absorbed by the small screen, while a Burger King and a group of immigrant workers bring food and other presents. In the background scientists Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker from the Muppets suggest that the corn and other products carried by the fast food employees may have been genetically modified. Behind them a Santa pushes a shopping cart full of gifts out of a department store that uses a star as part of its logo. 

Adoracion Capital (detail)

Oil on canvas 30" x 30""

by Patrick McGrath Muñíz


The four emblems around the frame represent different aspects of consumer culture: technology, food production, energy and government subsidies.  The industrial wheels on the lower left side of the composition evoke the industrial age from where our current predicament emerged.  On the lower right side, a red bag that reads “Believe” puts forward a driving creed behind the whole capitalist construction. Derived from a Catholic prayer, the text framing the composition evokes the use of text in Spanish Colonial Iconography and it reads: “Señor Capital: Que a imitacion de los magos del Norte, Vayamos tambien nosotros a adorarte en tu casa, que es templo. Y no vayamos jamas con cuentas pobres o manos vacias, Que te llevemos siempre lo major del fruto de nuestro sudor.” (“Lord Capital: That as an imitation of the Magi of the North, we shall also adore you in your house, that is a temple. And let us not go with poor accounts or empty handed and that we may always bring you the best of the fruit of our labor”. 

Adoracion Capital (detail)

Oil on canvas 30" x 30""

by Patrick McGrath Muñíz


Adoración Capital serves as a testament to our times and where we are headed in history. Symbols in time are inevitably transformed by subsequent generations and cultures evolve adopting new practices and beliefs according to the spirit of their time. The original stories told again and again eventually end up having a whole new meaning. It happened with the old pagan traditions and it is happening today with Christianity. Future historians may look back at our times as the crucial moment when the Christian Winter Solstice called "Christmas" was gradually replaced by the Capital worship Winter Solstice that may be known in the future as "Happy Shopping Days".  Of course it should also be remembered as a precarious time of Earth-plundering economics when we decided to give free rein to our voracious consumer habits, completely ignoring it's impact on our fragile ecosystem. 


Friday, November 20, 2015

The Tarot from an artist's perpective

The Vessel (2015)
Oil on canvas 48 x 72 inches by Patrick McGrath Muñiz.
Available at Evoke Contemporary

As a painter with a passion for history I always find new material and sources of inspiration to inform my art. Nearly 10 years ago I introduced Christian Iconography into my work derived from Spanish Colonial Art. At the same time I was interested in finding parallels between narratives and recurring archetypes from the past to the present. In the last 10 years I've gradually expanded the visual vocabulary adding more complexity and interpretations to the work. From the study and use of Spanish colonial narratives and the Catholic pantheon of saints to the present neo-colonial global narratives and the current capitalist pantheon of transnational corporations, I soon started noticing a hidden pattern that could be drawn further back in time.
Ashé  (2015)
Oil and gold leaf on panel 12 x 24 inches by Patrick McGrath Muñiz
Private collection

The ancient pagan gods of the Roman Empire seemed to be alive in the guise of Virgins, Saints and Angels. Now I could start drawing the line between gods, heroes, saints and corporations. After reading Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas, I realized there was indeed a good reason to suspect a connection and it led me up to the starry night and the study of archetypal astrology. The old gods became even more real when I understood the relation between certain planetary alignments and significant world events that affected the course of history.  The artist soul thrives with curiosity for many things besides his/her art and never ceases to be fascinated and inspired by unseen connections that can be detected by his/her own creative mind. This I believe is the driver of creativity.

Deuscubrimiento (2010)
Oil on canvas 50 x 38 inches by Patrick McGrath Muñiz
Private Collection
 So far my research has led me to study Astrology, Alchemy and Tarot. While they all show many variants, theories and uses depending on who you read or talk to, astrology stands firmly across the ages as the oldest of the three with consistent verifiable results. From alchemy we got chemistry, from astrology, astronomy. Tarot seems to be a totally different study. They all share some mystical core concepts but originate in different times and places and lead into different paths. If astrology was like a Solar system, alchemy would be a planet and Tarot a moon. It is much easier and accessible to study a moon but this shouldn't keep us from studying the whole Solar system and beyond.  An artist should always keep an open mind to the mystical realm and with this attitude his/her inner creative child is nurtured.

La Rueda Arquetipica Neo-Colonial (2011)
Oil on moving panels 36 x 36 inches by Patrick McGrath Muñiz 
Private collection

Although the date is still unclear, card games originated in China and made their way into the Islamic world during the 13th Century. Subsequently the Mamluk cards were introduced to Europe  in the 14th century and it became widely produced during the Renaissance.  The cards which had been based on Middle Eastern models were adopted by the Europeans who started creating cards that  reflected their local European cultures, carrying much of the symbolism and imagery prevalent by the time. The Tarot really began around the first half of 15th century Italy. The Visconti Tarot is an Italian deck dating around 1450 in Milan and it's the earliest most complete surviving deck that we have. The earliest Tarot decks contain characters from late mediaeval tradition such as knaves, knights, queens and kings with symbolic objects like coins, staffs, swords and cups. But what distinguishes the Tarot from any other four suit deck of playing cards is the Major Arcana which are 22. It has captivated the imagination of artists and occultists throughout the last 5 centuries. Even though today it is hard to disassociate Tarot from fortune telling, the Tarot initially did not start out as a divination device. From playing cards they were also used as mnemonic and educational tools for upper-class children (such as the Mantegna Tarocchi). It wasn't until the middle of the 18th century that we find a documented evidence for its use as a divination tool.
Study of Major Arcana or Main Archetypes of the Tarot (2012)
Drawing Journal  by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

My first Tarot deck was the Rider-Waite (1910), the one most people know of and use today. But at the time I was not ready to understand the importance and impact this device would have in my art. It wasn't until I acquired the Tarot of the Saints by Robert Place and read his books on Tarot several years ago that I got really interested in learning more about this mystery tradition. I soon found an interesting relation between the Tarot and all the subjects that had been of my sources of inspiration for my art. In the cards I could see the astrological signs, the ancient gods, the Christian saints and even the modern day corporations and consumer culture icons. I could see a multiplicity of forms from the highest to the lowest converge into a single encyclopedia of timeless archetypes.

Five Tarot cards (2013) Oil painting on panels by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

My appreciation for the cards and the images in them has grown since and the way I incorporate them in my art is far from the common use of fortune telling. As an artist, I see these cards is as an archetypal encyclopedia of 78 icons and symbols that can be re-interpreted in a similar way we interpret a painting at a museum. My fascination for the cards derives out of the same pleasure of knowing and not knowing at the same time what the images are about. It is the same sensation one has when confronted with a great masterpiece of art. The allure of a an enigmatic image never ceases to draw interest and attention from the viewer and that is what makes the Tarot so appealing today. It is a timeless work of art open to re-interpretation and re-creation.
Virgen de las Revelaciones (2013) 
Oil and metal leaf on panel 31 x 47 inches by Patrick McGrath Muñiz
Private collection

Some of my paintings include images of the cards. Some are copies from the Tarot of Marseille (The earliest deck to achieve widespread fame) but most are my own interpretations of the cards. They often appear on the edges and frames of my paintings adding an extra layer of content that modifies the context of the central composition. I am fully aware of the popular connection between Tarot and divination and that plays into the narrative as well. But my primary interest in the Tarot lies within its archetypal significance and how it may affect the interpretation of a piece. I'm also interested in how the Tarot can be relevant to our current global issues. Whether one uses it for divination, or just for the pleasure of collecting, the Tarot should be considered as a powerful creative tool for artists and writers who wish to explore and create new narratives in art and literature. The more I use the Tarot and incorporate it into my work, the more I learn from it and the combinations and possible narratives seem endless.
Mare Magnum (Closed triptych) (2014)
Oil and gold leaf on triptych panel 48 x 30 inches by Patrick McGrath Muñiz.
Private Collection

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Painter as alchemist: From colors to archetypes

The Alchemist 17th century Oil on Canvas by Mattheus van Hellemont

After pondering over the significance of what I do as a painter and the message my work carries with its narratives, it becomes interestingly notable the similarities between the alchemist and the painter. The alchemist obsessive pursuit of transforming lead into gold serves as a perfect metaphor for creative people living today in a consumerist society that have to come up with new ways of transforming all the rubbish into something beautiful and significant. In an age where we are constantly bombarded by mind numbing news and consumer culture propaganda, we are in need of artists that work as alchemists. These lotus like souls float over the muddy waters of our consumer driven society and their art blooms like a gleam of hope for a better future. The artist that becomes aware of the world around him/her can filter, distill and transform the experiences and information the keeps the masses asleep. Their art is like a golden bell that wakes up the dormant souls in this world. Art is indeed a very powerful tool. Just consider for a moment that about 10,000 years ago human civilizations on this planet developed agriculture. Long before this, about 40,000 years ago we started to paint in caves. That is how ancient and fundamentally important art is in our society.

Cro-Magnon artists painting Font-de-Gaume, France by Charles R. Knight
Imagine an art class where you would be required to paint with pure primary colors straight out of the tube without mixing. How would you create a landscape, a portrait or an abstract painting using only ultramarine blue, cadmium red or yellow? It can be done of course but once we create these primary color exercises we start to realize, how much more advantageous it is to be able to mix any of these colors and create a much more rich, and varied palette. After all, painting without the knowledge of mixing and expanding the chromatic spectrum is like learning just a few words in a new language. We expand our vocabulary and learn to pars and conjugate once we learn how colors interact and behave with each other. For a narrative painter, concepts, stories and archetypes are equally important as colors.

A star shapped color palette arrangement by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

It seems quite natural therefore to see the painter as an innate alchemist who creates work by association, destruction and construction.. This is someone who is constantly experimenting with different amalgamations of pigments and media in order to find the perfect recipe that will produce a gem, a work of art. Not only is the formal/material process important in order to achieve success, but the content (not just for a narrative painter) is just as important and becomes another layer added to the color palette. In the content palette one may find a limited number of archetypes. We may already be familiar with them but it is always good to refresh our memories be mindful of their existence. They come in many shapes and forms throughout time and different cultures. They are primary forces behind the gods, the saints, the heroes and villains we hear about in all world mythologies, religions and folklore. The different combinations of these archetypes produces a wide array of possible stories with specific ends and messages to be derived by the viewer.  

Study of archetypes derived from Roman Catholic Iconography by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

Going back to our art class, I have to ask myself when was the last time I learned how to compose a story with archetypes in a painting class? If mixing colors was seldom taught in both my undergrad and graduate painting curricula, I don't ever recall archetypes being mentioned as counterparts to color when it comes to conceptualization or storytelling. There can be many reasons for this huge gap in art academia but something remains crystal clear to me as a keep studying art on my own. The study of archetypes for an artist (even abstract) is as important as knowing your art history and as important as knowing how to mix the primary colors. As  alchemists, if we strive to create gold (art) out of the most basic materials, we should also be aware of how to construct our stories. No matter how abstract they may be, our creations will never escape or be independent of color, hidden archetypes and our own human history.
Studying archetypal themes in my journal.

In the following blog posts, I'll delve deeper into the understanding and exploration of these building blocks of narrative painting called archetypes. This will be part of the documentation for the development of my next project: A Tarot inspired by human history, social inequality and the environment.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Three new paintings in Antigua

"The Water Flask", "The Plate" and "The Exchange" (El Intercambio) are three new paintings I just sent over to La Antigua Galeria de Arte in Antigua Guatemala. For all three works I used friends that live in Guatemala as models for the characters. All three contain narratives that relate directly to the Neocolonial status of not just Guatemala and other Central American countries but of many more across the globe. The readings of Yuval Harari and Jared Diamond have been influential in my work. I find more and more clearly the historical connections and continuous line that bridges Imperialism from the ancient world to the European conquest of the Americas to the current global colonization by large transnational corporations. What drives this unity  for conquest and domination is a blind belief in the fiction of money and power. Today money seems to the universal religion that unites all in a common capitalist cause. When  animals are seen in merely  utilitarian terms, as objects and not as beings with rights, they become mass produced food and commodities. These in turn become processed objects valued in monetary terms. The same happens with many other precious natural resources from water to plants to the land. All becomes subject to the rules of the market. This belief in the supremacy of capital is ultimately contributing to the destruction of almost everything that lives on this planet, therefore leading to the suicide of our own species. These works reflect on our histories, inherited myths and current fictions.
The Plate 18" x 24" Oil on canvas by Patrick McGrath Muñiz.
A standing woman holds and shows us a plate that resembles an old Mayan plate. On a closer inspection we discover that the Mayan figures painted on the plate allude to a modern day fast food franchise.  It suggests socio-economic power hierarchies from the past to the present reflected in food production and consumption. Behind her we appreciate two painted figures from a mural. The Ancient Egyptian and Greek youths are accompanied by oxen and symbolize animal husbandry and agriculture, two important revolutions in the history of humanity that keep evolving to this day with the industrialization and mass production of GMO's across the globe. The haloed corn serpent around the woman's head, is Ouroboros, the serpent that eats its own tail, which also symbolizes the eternal cycles in nature of life and death. The imagery in the painting is meant to evoke food by utilizing symbols associated with it that at the same time control or influence the way we understand and consume them. The plate is old, the plate is broken and it is also empty, just as the whole idea behind the sanctity of food in an age of corporations.

El Intercambio  (The Exchange) 24" x 24" Oil on canvas by Patrick McGrath Muñiz.

In the painting El Intercambio (The Exchange) two men pose in front of a Central American landscape and meet at a table. The one on the left represents the indigenous cultures and their beliefs. The one to the right is inspired after Saint Isidore the laborer, who was aided by an angel who plowed the soil. This character represents the West and  holds a pomegranate seed on one hand while holding a coin on the other. The pomegranate symbolizes Pluto, the Classical god of the underworld, power and riches. An inscription on the coin reads: Monsanctus Dominus Global, in allusion  to a large transnational seed corporation's global dominion. The apparent transaction occurs between two different cultures and belief systems. One places its faith in the god of money while the other holds Mother Earth and the natural world as sacred. The inscription below reads: Fatali Pretium Fructuum (The predestined price of produce) We can see that the gold coins on the table are really chocolate candy gold coins, a commentary on the created fiction and value of money. From the military drone to the flying saucer in the sky, the scene is a reflection of past and present conquest, colonization with its shock doctrine and myths of progress and development. Who will benefit most in the end from this exchange?
The Water Flask 18" x 24" Oil on canvas by Patrick McGrath Muñiz.
A woman holds a green round flask on her hands with a yellow halo around her. The flask is inspired after a Menas flask, a particular kind of small ancient terracotta flask sold to early Coptic Christians as containers for holy water. In this case the iconography of St. Menas of Alexandria has been replaced by the Nestle Logo, one of the largest transnational food and water corporations that has been responsible for unethical exploitation, water extraction, pollution and other fraudulent activities in a number of countries from Ethiopia to Colombia. The illegal appropriation, branding and re-selling of water as a commodity is just the tip of the iceberg from  a deceitful corporation that  paints itself as a "Pure Life" nurturing Icon. In a painting as in our own lives ruled by corporations, appearances can often be deceiving.  This brings us to question: Who has the divine right to water? Who has the right to sell it and who can afford to buy it?



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Holy Gospel of Consumption

Mirabile Futurum 16" x 20" Oil on Canvas by Patrick McGrath Muñiz
With Climate change already upon us and becoming more real than ever with every passing year, we ought to ask ourselves how we got to the present state to begin with? What is the root cause of this already beyond un-debatable man made impact on climate and the environment? It would be quite easy to conclude that the rampant nature exploitation activities from our industrial society and over consumption of natural resources are behind it. We could fill pages exposing the failure of globalized capitalism which is driven by economic growth and it's unsustainable extraction practices. It would be after all quite apparent that oil companies reliant on fossil fuels that cause CO2 emissions, large trans-national corporations, government lack of regulations and big state polluters like China are responsible for much of our climate's present state and future.
Time magazine cover for Jan 2, 1989

The truth is we could trace the origins of these destructive systems  a little further back in time.  In 1989, Time magazine instead of going for the usual "Man of the Year" cover, used a photograph  by  artist Christo of a globe covered with plastic and tied up with twine. The cover read:  "Planet of the Year: Endangered Earth". As significant as this may seem at the time, the accompanying essay by Thomas Sancton was a powerful statement in itself worth quoting as it described the roots of the problem:

"In many pagan societies, the earth was seen as a mother, a fertile giver of life. Nature-the soil, forest, sea- was endowed with divinity, and mortals were subordinate to it. The Judeo-Christian tradition introduced a radically different concept. The earth was the creation of a monotheistic God, who, after shaping it, ordered its inhabitants in the words of Genesis: "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth". The idea of dominion could be interpreted as an invitation to use nature as a convenience. Thus the spread of Christianity, which is generally considered to have paved the way for the development of technology, may at the same time have carried the seeds of the wanton exploitation of nature that has often accompanied technological progress".

Neo-Genesis 12" x 12" Ink on paper by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

This was certainly not a new idea at the time as it formed the basis of the growing counter culture ecological movement. But being included in such a widespread magazine read by millions was indeed significant and revealing. This anthropocentric anti-environmental world view and even demonization of nature is definitely not exclusive to the Judeo-Christian tradition but it undoubtedly influenced western thought from the  theologian  St. Augustine to the philosopher Francis Bacon.  Western capitalism was in turn inspired by the belief in a fruitful and multiplying human civilization with  its economic growth, prosperity and technological progress based on competition, a free market and its dominion,  manipulation and exploitation over Mother Nature.  With the fall of the Iron Curtain, the dissolution of the Soviet Union  and the increasing power of communications with the rise of the internet in the 1990's, Capitalism became a fast growing world phenomenon and to this day it defines much of our globalized cultural and social landscapes from New York to Beijing.
An industrial area, with a power plant, south of Yangzhou's downtown, China

Yuval Harari on his book Sapiens: a brief history of humanity argues that  modern day capitalism resembles more a religion rather than an economic theory. The collective fiction  of the supremacy of money is  one big cultural construct that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. The utilitarian and extractionist  approach to nature from  free market fundamentalism is propagated through the mass media in order to indoctrinate the people to become passive consumers rather than active world citizens that may question these created fictions. 
Hercules and the Virtues 36" x 28" Oil and metal leaf on wood panel by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

Despite the best efforts of well intentioned people within the Church from LeonardoBoff to Pope Francis to revise the Christian doctrines in a new ecological light, these dogmas and inherited beliefs in a human superiority over animals, plants, other peoples  and other lands is hard to overlook.  From the idea of a "Promised Land" to the "Manifest Destiny", these conveniently designed myths have served  the interests of empires, monarchies, monotheistic  proselytizing religions and economic monopolies around the globe.   It is extremely important we know the root of a problem before we prepare to fix it, especially when we are dealing with our very own existence and future on this planet.
American Progress Oil painting by John Glast (Circa 1872)
Of course Christianity  or any other monotheist religions are not the primary cause of our current environmental crisis. We created a negative impact on the ecosystem long before any of these modern day religions showed up, from the hunter gatherer societies to the agricultural revolution and the rise of the first big cities. But by digging deep into the historical relation between religion, empire, money and the natural world  we can gain a much better understanding of our present day ecological downfall.  It is time we change not only our consumption habits but our core beliefs as well. While the unquestioned "sacrosanctity" of the ruling corpocracy and global financial institutions is kept in place by our unyielding monotheistic faith in the power of money over everything else we can only expect one big thing to change,  that is our planet and our very existence on it.

Novus Ordo Seclorum print by artist Carlos Barberena

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dreams, Divinities and the Attention to Detail.

Recently I attended the opening of Dreams & Divinities, an international travelling group show now showing at LuminArte Gallery in Dallas, Texas and which I am proud to be participating in with one of my pieces. The show has travelled from Toledo, Spain to San Cristobal de las Casas to Monterey, Mexico with its finale in Dallas, Texas. It has been presented during four equinoxes which happens to give the project the conceptual framework from where it springs forth. Curated by Liba Waring Stambollion and presented by Matt Anzak at Luminarte, the show features visionary, magic realism and surrealist artists from around the globe. As soon as you enter the gallery you'll be in for a treat for the mind and soul.

Partial view of the exhibition

For the highly skeptical viewer, the works may at first seem to be flighty colorful renditions of New Age doctrines, an escapist attempt, oblivious to the current state of affairs of our world and perhaps of the 'art world' as well . On a closer inspection the works reveal a profound sense of being and understanding of how the world operates at an subconscious level. Not only subject matter is represented from an unconventional holistic approach, which makes the work so interesting, it also unpacks a whole load of visual information that responds to our own age. In a high speed internet age, these silent images allure us to slow down a bit and take our time to look closer, to comtemplate and experience that which cannot be expressed with words.

Work by Miguel Tio

Work by Android Jones

What I found fascinating about the show was not only the intricate complexity and individual language of each piece but also the incredible unity and level of cohesion of the whole. The mastery and imaginative use of color in the works of Cody Seekins, Roku Sasaki, Zeljko Djurovic and Android Jones are spectacular. The attention to fine drawing details in the work Joe MacGown, Carrie Ann Baade, Miguel Tio and Raul Casillas is mind blowing. From dots, stars, little leaves, microcosmic strange looking creatures, to myterious signs, symbols and fiery dragons, the pieces in this exhibition not only speak eloquently of the unseen, they are also well grounded in a solid tradition of representational techniques in painting and sculpture.

Work by Patrick Mcgrath Muñiz

Perhaps what's most interesting about this exhibition is the fact that it gathers highly talented artists from a wide range of backgrounds and cultural upbringings. We may all speak different languages but it all interestingly comes together in our shared vision and the creative process. From the ethereal portraits of A. Andrew Gonzalez to the focused attention to detail of the painted objects in Erich J. Mofitt's work, every piece in this exhibition invites us into the surrealist realm of dreams and divinities but without losing a keen eye for the small, overlooked things from our Earthbound world.

Works by Joe MacGown
Artists: Patrick McGrath Muñiz, Andrew Gonzalez and Joe McGown

I'm well aware that I haven't mentioned every artist participating in this exhibition and I only had the chance to meet two of the artists in person, Joe MacGown and Andrew Gonzalez, both extraordinarily talented.  But there is so much to grasp in this exhibition it would take a whole book to cover it and there would still be more left out to talk about. As a matter of fact as Liba mentions, this is how the Dreams and Divinities project got started in the first place, with a book. If you are interested in learning more about all the artists participating, and of the Dreams and Divinities current and future projects and publications visit:

Dreams and Divinities

The exhibition will be up until May 2nd, 2015 and I highly recommend seeing it in person. Believe me, cameras do not capture as much as the real experience of being in front of many of these works of art. For more information on LuminArte gallery hours and location visit:

LuminArte Fine Art Gallery

Detail of Raul Casillas work

Friday, February 20, 2015

Nulla Dies Sine Linea & the Importance of Drawing

19 years ago I started a project and new year's resolution in which I drew every day in a drawing journal. The idea came from a phrase I read from Apelles of Kos a Greek painter of the 4th century BC. "Nulla Dies Sine Linea" (Do not spend a day without a line) is a famous quote attributed to the artist. Drawing is fundamental to all art, from painting to architecture, so why not strengthen this skill to its maximum, I thought. The way to do this was by first of all adopting the phrase from Apelles as maxim & principle to guide my art. 

The first drawings made in my diary were by ballpoint pen and very loose. Many of these were disastrous but some showed to have potential and I slowly began to realize that what's really important behind drawing was in the process and not necessarily the result. The vigor and looseness were gradually being reflected in any other artistic medium I worked with. For many years I drew religiously every day in my diaries that kept accumulating. These drawings served as sketches for my paintings but they also served as a learning tool, escape valve and  an appropriate channel for creative energy. This had a tremendously positive impact on paintings I created in subsequent years. 

After passing through some phases and art periods high and low, I decided to re-take this daily practice of drawing from this year onwards and through this blog to share some of the results. After all this blog is titled "Artist journal", so I better make some justice with this title. 

When I taught drawing and painting, one of my advices to my students was to never stop drawing and to create a habit and discipline of drawing as many often as they could. At first it may be difficult and it is because we do not have the time or easily feel discouraged by not seeing immediate results but the key is keeping at it with persistence in the process and to simply enjoy the humble act of drawing. 

One way of looking at it is to think about the drawings as the basic vitamins in art. In this metaphor, an artist who does not draw is a malnourished artist. Again I throw this advice to all who read this blog. No matter the medium or support but always keep this in mind and practice "Nulla Dies Sine Linea".