Jose Luis Muñoz paints muted abstracted environmental portraits that explore themes such as climate change, urban development, lost civilizations, urban sprawl and the material hubris humans leave in their wake.
I find myself on the constant look out for abstract art that ignites my mind in some way and that’s why I’m writing about Jose’s Luis Muñoz’s work today…
What interests me about Muñoz’s abstract paintings is that while they are pretty to look at, they are titled in such a way that they are refreshingly relevant. They speak of history, the environment and how humans interact with it. They have meaning beyond their muted colors and strong horizontal compositions. I’m referring here to titles that actually correlate with the compositions. The plausible connection between the two pushes you to study the work more closely.
When us art oriented folk think of Málaga Spain we associate this place with Pablo Picasso’s hometown. And when we’ve got Picasso on our mind, if we bracket cubism from our thought process, we think about a hyper sensual art oriented towards human corporeality. Jose Luis Muñoz – also from Málaga, has a quite different approach to his art. His eye veers to the landscape above and beyond the human body. While his paintings are definitely earthy, they view the world and the human activities unfolding therein from a considerable distance – much like a satellite orbiting the earth rather than a man participating in the throng of humanity.
The detached perspective offers its own insights that force us to look at our world with the big picture constantly in view: climate change, or urban development in contra-distinction to the wild places beyond urban sprawl. When Munoz brings us back to Earth to experience humanity first hand, we find ourselves trapped in his head contemplating paintings like “The Labyrinth of Useless Thoughts”.
In terms of connections to iconic art from the annals of art history, Jose’s work seems to me more rooted in J.M.W Turner’s late abstracted landscapes (specifically: Shade and Darkness – The Evening of the Deluge, The Morning After the Deluge, Sunrise with Sea Monsters, and Coast Scene) than contemporary abstract art movements of the 20th century. Like Turner (who was obsessed about painting phenomena pertaining to the weather and the elements), Muñoz’s abstracts are mostly rooted in tangible, temporal things (or at least things that used to be tangible as is the case with “Ancient Underwater Civilization”). In this he is not so different than Picasso who maintained that his abstracts where always rooted in the reality of the physical world.
Jose works with gesso, acrylic and various palette knives to achieve a highly textured palimpsest effect that functions as an analogy of the ebb and flow of geological time and the histories of many civilizations written, scrapped down and rewritten over vast periods of time.
A fair amount of Muñoz’s output evokes the geographical features of the Iberian Peninsula – the colors and textures of land, desert and sea.
The Author: J.E. RADDATZ