Artist of the Month: Patrick McGrath Muñiz

As above so below

Born in New York but raised in Puerto Rico, this formally trained and talented artist is showing 20 of his paintings at La Antigua Galería de Arte.

The collection titled Re-Inventing Icons is a commentary on the relationship between four cardinal ideas: colonialism; neo-colonialism, which Patrick McGrath Muñiz represents through consumerism and mass media culture; mythology; and religion.  With his paintings, Patrick is attempting to “trace a line between these concepts and to make people reflect on these ideas and how they relate to one another.”

Patrick’s experience of growing up in Puerto Rico – specifically the colonial and neo-colonial experience – has had great influence on his work and was the foundation for his thesis at Savannah College of Arts and Design, where he received a Masters in Fine Arts degree. “As an artist, I am using the imagery of colonial art in Latin America, specifically from colonial painter Puerto Rican José Campeche, and reinterpreting this [imagery] in the light of neo-colonial issues, such as consumerism. I’m taking all these iconic images and re-contextualizing them in terms of contemporary culture and how they relate to our experience today in a globalized world.” The images of consumerist icons, such as multinational corporation logos that are found in his paintings, have, for Patrick, “been replacing the traditional icons.” His work is essentially a commentary on how consumerist icons are taking over and replacing holy images, and how they have gained the same kind of status as their consecrated predecessors.

Patrick has been showing his paintings in La Antigua since 2007. He believes there are many similar elements between Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he lived, and La Antigua, making our post-colonial city an appropriate place to exhibit his work. When asked whether he thinks Re-Inventing Icons will strike a chord with Antigüeños, his response was quick: “I hope so. There have been different reactions before when I’ve showed similar work [in La Antigua]. In 2009, when I had an exhibition there, Saints and Allegories, there was mixed reaction. It was mostly positive, but I also had reactionary responses to the work because people are very sensitive about religious issues. What I want to make clear is it is not my intention to criticize the church in any way; instead it is a commentary on how consumer culture has become a new religion today.”

Globadoracion

Included in the collection are pieces which can be seen as poking a bit of fun at today’s mass media culture, such as the triptych “Immaculate Implants,” as well as pieces which make serious commentary on neo-colonialism, consumerism and today’s society, such as “Allegory to Justice” and “The Flight,” a powerful painting depicting Mary and Joseph’s familiar quest for shelter set along the southern border of the United States.

Because of Patrick’s talent and style of painting, at first glance these paintings could been seen as excellent reproductions of classic colonial art, but with a closer look one can clearly see the intention of the artist is not to reproduce, but to reinterpret these classic icons while questioning our modern day perspective and establishing a relation between what is happening today and what used to happen in colonial times.

For more information, visit La Antigua Galería de Arte (MAP F2) or go to artintheamericas.com

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