Here, an artist known for conflating the history of iconography with the perception of matter intentionally limits his field of action as he operates according to the basic dynamics between real and virtual visual stimuli. As a result, abstraction becomes the primary tool for an experimentation that is at once radical and varied.
In Handmade, the public won't see artworks derived from known images or references to mundane materials—both of which are staples of the artist's work. Rather, Muniz references the vast tradition of abstract art by distilling his basic formulae to create unexpected forms of meditation on images and objects, the ambiguity of the senses, and the importance of illusion. Handmade outlines the artist's constant concern with transcending the symbolic dimensions of image.
Muniz proceeds with his investigation, displaying the unique combination of formal eloquence and conceptual thoroughness that is a defining feature of his oeuvre. Handmade represents a step forward in his lengthy research into the ways of seeing in contemporary times, and the possibility of a new ethics stemming from the training of the gaze. If our world grows more media-oriented by the minute and our senses are replaced by images, then touch, taste, and desire all begin with an image, and the artist reminds us that we are faced with constructs that need interpreting if we are to move from a passive stance to an active one. Thus Handmade comes as a bold new provocation to each and every one of us regarding our ability to see and discern the statute of image, using interventions unlike those he has employed thus far. Hence, we are witnessing a new Muniz, one who ushers in new things by tapping into the very structural methods he has used from the start.
about the artist
Vik Muniz (b. 1961, São Paulo, Brazil) lives and works in New York and Rio de Janeiro. The act of copying or quoting iconic images from popular culture and art history is a key element of Muniz's work. Building upon our collective memory and playing with scale, Muniz lays out his images on large-scale tableaux made of sugar, tomato sauce, diamonds, magazine clippings, chocolate syrup, dust, and junk before capturing them with his camera.
Beyond making art, Muniz is involved in social projects that use art making as a force for change. One of these projects can be seen in Waste Land, a 2010 documentary about his work with Brazilian garbage pickers, which was nominated for an Oscar and won the Sundance Audience Award for Best World Cinema Documentary, among other prizes.
Recent solo exhibitions include Vik Muniz (High Museum of Art, Atlanta, USA, 2016); Vik Muniz (Mauritshuis, the Hague, Netherlands, 2016); Vik Muniz: Mas acá de la imagen (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Lima, Peru, 2014); Vik Muniz: Pictures of Anything (Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2014);Vik Muniz: Poetics of Perception (Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, USA, 2014); Espelhos de papel (Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo, Brazil, 2013); and Vik Muniz (Museo de Art del Banco de la Republica, Bogotá, Colombia, 2013).
Other international solo exhibitions in recent years include Vik Muniz (House of Photography, Moscow); Vik Muniz: Pictures of People (BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK); Vik Muniz (Irish Museum of Contemporary Art, Dublin); Vik Muniz (Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain); and Vik Muniz (Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro and Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo). In the United States major solo exhibitions include The Things Themselves: Pictures of Dirt (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York); Vik Muniz (Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, New York); Clayton Days (The Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh); and Seeing Is Believing (International Center of Photography, New York).
In December 2008, Muniz was the guest artist in the MoMA exhibition series Artist's Choice: Vik Muniz, Rebus. Muniz was also a guest artist at the 49th Venice Biennial, the 2000 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the 24th Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, and the 46th Corcoran Biennial Exhibition: Media/Metaphor at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. In 2011, Muniz was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.