OBLIVIOUS by Patrick Mcgrath Muñiz
March 2 - March 28, 2018
Reception: March 24, 2018; 6 - 9pm
To be oblivious is to be unaware or unconcerned about what is happening in one's environment.
The work presented in OBLIVIOUS is a response to our capitalist consumerist society with its apparent indifference to the rising threat of climate change by tracing its origins to the time of Columbus. Adopting Renaissance painting techniques on canvas and retablos reminiscent of Spanish colonial art, enables me to emulate earlier indoctrination strategies and devices from the time of the conquest of the Americas. This in turn provides historical continuity between the Colonial and the Neo-colonial narratives present in the Anthropocene, an epoch defined by the enormous impact of human activities on the Earth's ecosystems. Through satirical narratives and anachronisms present in my art I'm able to explore, understand and question the ruling Corpocracy with its Colonial roots, Neo-colonial ramifications and environmental consequences in our time. Apart from questioning the modernist creed of growth, progress and presumed human dominion over nature, these paintings also question our embedded consumer beliefs and disproportionate attention and faith we have placed on technology.
After experiencing Harvey in Houston, where I now reside, witnessing Hurricane Maria passing over Puerto Rico and Irma in Florida, where most of my family and friends live, the issue of Climate Change became even more personal. As an artist, I feel a responsibility to re-tell the story of climate change the way I know best, in drawings, paintings and altarpieces. As an artist with a Roman Catholic background and growing up during the 1980's and 90's in the island of Puerto Rico, the oldest colony in the Western Hemisphere, I feel a deep personal interest in reconnecting with history. By appropriating figures and icons present in Art History, Pop Culture, Christian Iconography and Mythology, I create portraits and scenes that mirror my own experience living in a world of stronger storms, hurricanes and floods. This re-contextualization of history allows me to start a conversation about what it means to be living in the Anthropocene while shedding new light on how our OBLIVIOUS consumerist doctrines have modified our appreciation towards history, nature and ourselves.