Real Pictures – which debuts Muniz’s most recent Handmade series for the first time in the United Kingdom – explores the nature of perception, reality and representation and challenges notions of materiality. Unlike Muniz’s previous series which refer to specific images from art history, collective memory and popular culture, this new body of work refers to the fundamental elements of abstract art itself: colour, composition, form and rhythm, and draws upon connections to abstract art movements including op art, conceptual art and constructivism.
Muniz is renowned for his ingenious employment of a wide range of materials, including dust, sugar, chocolate, diamonds, caviar, toys, paper hole-punches, junk, dry pigment and magazine shreds, each used to reconstruct images which tap into the viewer’s subconscious visual repository and incite further investigation. Muniz’s Handmade works are exceptionally rich in allusion, forcing viewers to refocus their attention on the materials themselves and compelling them to consider the process of their creation.
As their title suggests, these unique works are the result of a hybrid technique which fuses handcrafted, three-dimensional elements – most notably painting and collaged components – with high-resolution digital photography. These abstract, material studies compel the viewer to closely investigate the dichotomy between the physical object and its depiction while simultaneously reinventing the possibilities of the construction of the photographic image. Commenting on the complicated image-object relationship highlighted within these works, Muniz observes, “It always goes both ways. What you expect to be a photo isn’t, and what you expect to be an object is a photographic image.” Expanding on this idea, Muniz notes, "In an age when everything is reproducible, the difference between the work and the image of the work almost does not exist."
The results of his investigation and experimentation are complex compositions, each individual work combining different techniques: paper and card are painted, cut out and arranged on a surface, photographed, rearranged and then re-photographed, thus creating layers of multifaceted volume, shadows and pictorial planes. The simple geometrical forms and primary colours of works such as Messy Colour Grid, Trap and Maru (all 2019) create a tension and a sense of dynamic movement. As Muniz notes, “sometimes we want to know how things are made. Sometimes we don’t.” By creating different layers which reveal underlying elements and their photographs, Muniz creates a unique trompe-l'œil effect, where the objects and their photographic counterparts are interlinked in a visual illusion.