‘Oscar Muñoz’s: Invisibilia’ offers thought-provoking invitation to look through eyes of legendary artist

Darren Puccala, Life & Arts Reporter

Art routinely rewards those who are patient in their evaluation and appreciation, those who linger long enough to see what others overlook. Visitors of the  Blanton’s major exhibition of the spring semester, Oscar Muñoz: Invisibilia, require these virtues to fully immerse themselves in Muñoz’s detailed creations. 

Invisibilia will be at the Blanton Museum of Art until June 5, inviting students and non-student visitors to peer into the mind and 50-year-long career of the Colombian visual artist. The exhibition revolves around Muñoz’s response to the environment and events of his life, specifically the violence he witnessed in Colombia during La Violencia and the cartel wars. Muñoz’s central motif — overlooked moments of war — highlights the delicate intersection between the tangible and intangible.

Blanton museum showcases this mentality at the entrance of the museum with the installation Ambulatório. This installment showcases a black and white scrambled map of Muñoz’s hometown of Cali, Colombia. The rearranged sections serve to make it impossible for the audience to recognize any part of the city, mimicking Muñoz’s feelings of being lost in Cali in the wake of violence. 

One of the more unique installations, Pixeles, is a reconstruction of anonymous faces who lost their lives in one of modern Colombia’s conflicts, and sends a broader message about the trivialization of death. Muñoz recreated the faces using sugar cubes stained by coffee, representing the pixelation of these individuals. The piece stands out visually amongst the exhibit’s many black and white images. Inviting onlookers to attempt to make out the nine anonymous faces, Muñoz offers a surreal understanding of these lives and the many other lives lost during these conflicts. 

Inspired by the idea of constant change, Muñoz attempts to capture specific moments from any given point in time, further emphasizing the need to watch, wait and take in the details of each piece. 

Standout piece Re/trato, a 28-minute uninterrupted video of Muñoz drawing self-portraits with a wet brush on sun-warmed cement, prompts the audience to examine the subtle differences between portraits. In the video, all progress is lost seconds after each stroke touches the cement, leading to a never-ending process in which Muñoz attempts to replicate his own image. Re/trato showcases the difficulty of capturing specific moments and is mesmerizing to viewers. 

A similarly remarkable section, Horizonte, Serie Impresiones débiles, showcases a series of documentary photos, mostly taken from history books and then altered to shift the focal point of each. This series conveys the liberation of time. Drawing focus to the different individuals is a genius way to bring more attention to the many distinct and unique perspectives of major moments throughout history.

Effortlessly thought-provoking, Oscar Muñoz’s Invisibilia deserves a long walkthrough and an open mind willing to explore the many details that come with the visionary’s work.