Guy Hepner Contemporary Art Gallery is pleased to present Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, known for his use of everyday materials to create art, with anything from diamonds to dirt. He combines his unexpected everyday mediums with drawings and design, and then photographs it, only keeping the photograph, due to his belief in the power of image and its ability to evolve with every glance.
Muniz views his art as a channel to capture what we normally see, but in a manner that will push the viewer to look at the object in a different way. He mostly creates large life size photographs, as a method of connecting his viewer to the object, sharing “I would like people to walk toward a picture, to see how it changes as they walk. Pictures mean different things at different distances. There are always micro narratives being played.”
Muniz draws immense inspiration from artists Rembrandt and Vermeer. While his eclectic taste in material choice seems opposite from the artworks of these classical painters, he strives to attain the same essence of mystery within the visible that these artists capture. He sees their paintings as a lens into an entire world, that says a lot more than the objects simply being placed in front of the viewers.
Similarly, his photographs are a tunnel into a whole world, with more being revealed each time a person comes in contact with the piece. Muniz shares the power of the eyes, and how a viewer interprets an image in front of them every single time, similar to the complexity of a computer. His nod towards technology and understanding the human mind reveals his belief in the connection between art and science. He shares that art is about a phenomenon, while science is about the mind, therefore, the only way to make visual renderings is by understanding scientifically how the eyes work, and how they will cognitively interpret what they are seeing.
In 2010, Muniz was featured in a film titled Wasteland, made to build awareness for poverty as well as capture the ability to transform what people view as garbage into art. He travels to the world’s biggest landfill, Jardim Gramacho, located outside Rio de Janeiro, where he works with the employees to turn the garbage into a beautiful piece of contemporary artwork, featuring one of the workers from the landfill.
This film builds the foundation of a larger picture of Muniz’s philosophy on contemporary art sharing, “I find that it’s not enough of a mission when art is supposed to be about one thing or another because to be art, to begin with, it should be about everything at once. It should present a kind of all-encompassing world.” This philosophy is embedded in the nature of his film which combines a society of people, and trash, and redevelops objects these people have come in contact with everyday to be viewed in an entirely different light. Muniz shares his fascination with the alchemists, who with science and belief were able to turn lead into gold. He takes a similar position by using the science of understanding visual perception and light to reintroduce the way a viewer experiences an object.