Thursday, July 25, 2013

Virgen de las Revelaciones : A preview of my upcoming exhibition at Mesa

Virgen de las Revelaciones
Oil and metal leaf on polyptych panel 31” x 47”

Virgen de las Revelaciones (Virgin of Revelations) is one of my latest paintings inspired on the image of the woman of the Apocalypse from the descriptions of the book of Revelations.  As part of my project “Devocionales” Neo-colonial retablos from an Archetypal perspective", this particular piece stands as a center piece and mother of all other retablo paintings in this collection.. In it I depict a Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven standing on a dragon with seven heads and surrounded by Tarot cards that often have been associated with divination practices.  The image of the Heavenly Assumption of the Virgin is herself associated with the last Major Arcana of the Tarot; The World, which shows a dancing  woman surrounded by astrological symbols. The seven headed dragon reminds us of the seven deadly sins, which endows the creature with new meaning in this particular case. The seven headed dragon looking up to the Virgin (World) represent Government Pride, Consumerist Gluttony, Banking Greed, Media Envy, Military Wrath, Corporate Lust and Sloth.


Detail of Virgen de las Revelaciones
Oil and metal leaf on polyptych panel 31” x 47”

The attached painted panels resembling Tarot cards include the 21 major Arcana plus “The Fool”. There are two additional square like panels that are not part of the Tarot but correspond to two religious traditions from the West and the East; The Cruficied Christ and the Sitting Buddha. The 24 miniature panel paintings correspond directly to the archetypes and core themes addressed in all of the retablo paintings comprised in “Devocionales”. In other words "La Virgen de las Revelaciones" is a visual encyclopedia of the most relevant symbols, key concepts and archetypes expressed in all of my work.  A brief description of these is as follows:
El Crucificado (The Crucified) 

The image of Christ is crucified to a tree was not uncommon to European painters during the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. In Catholic Tradition, Christ is often referred to as the Tree of Life from the book of Genesis. There is an ecological implication as well with this image. That is why right behind Christ there is a factory and a construction crane symbolizing the pollution brought by the industrial modern age and human progress. A sign above Christ’s head reads “ECO”. Christ stands as a symbol of suffering in the face of environmental crisis. 

El Iluminado (The Illuminated)

The Sitting Buddha is not titled or labeled and sits peacefully in the middle and under a tree and in front of an urban landscape. The billboard, electric poles and communications tower refer to the postmodern age of Information and mass media. The Buddha stands as a symbol of moderation and non-attachment to this world of illusions and distractions. The cero on top represents the state of emptiness but also wholeness of being.

El Loco (The Fool) 
The Fool also known as the court jester or buffoon is usually unnumbered and therefore considered of cero value. This however give the fool an advantage, as he can go wherever he wants and whenever he wishes without responding to social structures or conventions. He breaks the rules by becoming an outcast. In this interpretation of the Tarot, the fool is dressed up as a colonial “jibaro” (Mountain dwelling peasant) walking half barefooted with his faithful dog companion towards a super department store that reads” Always Fool Center”.

El Mago (The Magician)

The first card is that of the Magician which in this case I have reinterpreted as a colonial painter. Inspired in the Puerto Rican Colonial Painter Jose Campeche and his contemporary Francisco Goya, this painter holds the secret to light not only in his palette and paint brush but also on an unexpected laptop that sits on the table in front of him. This “Neo-Colonial” painter is aided not only by history but by Information Technology in order to create.

La Papisa (The Popess) 

The Popess is card number two and it represents not only dualism but also feminism. A female Pope is obviously an image that defies the patriarchal structures within the supreme spiritual Institution of the Catholic Faith. In this Neo-Colonial reinterpretation, a seated nun holds a smart phone and laptop, two electronic devices that are keep a symbiotic relation in our globalized world. The Bible rests on the floor by her feet, implying that she acknowledges history but does not become attached to tradition. She is receptive to new forms of knowledge

La Emperatriz (The Empress)

The Major Arcana 3 depicts a woman dressed up in colonial dress. She is a lady of power and prestige but in this case also a person who not only consumes but also becomes an embodiment for consumerism itself. She holds a TV set on one hand and an ice cream on the other. A famous fast food chain restaurant can be seen in the background.  The objects and symbols in this image are concerned with appearances and the material world.

El Emperador (The Emperor)

This card speaks of power and government. Sitting on a throne, this emperor holds a stack of dollar bills and a staff with an eagle as an emblem of Imperial power. Beneath his feet lies the globe and in the background we see a building that resembles the U.S. Capitol building with a drone flying by. A medal with a dollar sign hangs from the emperor’s neck.  Given the mentioned symbols, this card takes on a new meaning. The senile Saturnine principle is recalled with an old tired Uncle Sam looking serious and straight at the viewer.

El Papa (The Pope)

Traditionally the Pope represents religious authority in our western patriarchal society. During the conquest and colonization of Latin America, his authority was supreme and Catholic dogma justified every imperial policy in the New World. Today the Mainstream Media disseminates and justifies the actions of the big banks and corporations, the new colonial powers in our globalized world. In a world ruled by money, the neo-colonial supreme papal authorities of this era are the big banks (World Bank, International Monetary Fund & others).

Los Amantes (The Lovers)

A young colonial man stands under a tree and in between two young women. One of them, dressed up as a “muse” points up at the tree where a cupid with an I-pod is hiding right above the man. The indigenous woman covers herself and looks up at the cupid. Traditionally this card has been associated with free will and choices in life. For this reason there are also two fast food restaurants in the background, where one must decide to eat.
This analogy refers to the notion that often we are presented with the illusion of free choice, when in fact it’s just another way of control.

El Carro (The Car)
Long distance travel, voyages and immigration are all linked to this particular archetype.  These new Immigrants and explorers now travel on trucks, pick-ups and SUV’s.  The emerging pioneer standing on top of the vehicle has decided to set foot on new territories, try his luck & seek for new opportunities in Promised Land.

La Justicia (Justice)
The image of the Archangel St. Michael was and still is a very well known symbol for justice in the Americas since colonial times.  The devil under St. Michael in this re-interpretation is portrayed as a modern day armed thug. Instead of a sword, St. Michael holds up a police baton.

El Ermitano (The Hermit)
The Hermit is the ninth card in most Tarot decks and it is associated with introspection and the old sage archetype. This is a “fool” who has grown old and now seeks inner wisdom. He may become the mentor of a future hero or he may even become a saint. In this occasion, the hermit holds a flashlight in front of him. It is dark but we can see what looks like cookie cutter houses in the background and a sign that reads “Foreclosure”. The hermit now has become homeless. 

La Rueda de la Fortuna (Wheel of Fortune)

The tenth card is that of the “Wheel of Fortune” and it is one of the most interesting cards from the the Major Arcana in the Tarot. For the first time we encounter a card that can carry all other archetypes in an ambiguous narrative. Overall the overarching theme here is constant movement, round, up and down and in all directions. What goes up must come down and so do all corporations, governments and cultures.  The Wheel of Fortune seems like a perfect symbol for a profit based society. While Mickey seems to be going up to the top, Topo Gigio, popular children’s character in Latin American culture is struggling under the wheel.  Uncle Pennybags from monopoly seems to rule the game from the top.

La Fuerza (Strength)

On this card from the Visconti-Sforza to the Rider Waite, Strength has been represented as woman gently closing the jaws of a lion.  Other decks have been inspired by the myth of Hercules or Samson. Perhaps the Latin American Icon that is most famous embodiment of this archetype is the Mexican wrestler “El Santo”. In this scene, “El Santo wrestles with a lion while Superman flies up to stop a military drone. In the background we can also find a well known Spanish colonial saint associated with these attributes; Santiago Matamorros, the patron saint of the conquest. The Spanish colonial Morro “Fort” reinforces the Mars/Ares Archetype.

El Colgado (The Hanged Man)

The Hanged Man is a card usually associated with sacrifice, punishment, suspension and giving up. In this re-interpretation, a Papantla flyer from Mexico, is hanged upside-down while a helicopter flies by and an oil rig is seen on the horizon. Winged Icarus from Greek Mythology falling from the sky reinforces the sense of fall, vertigo and surrender. Prometheus is also another Mythic figure associated with this card as well as Saint Sebastian.

Muerte (Death)

Honoring the Tarot of Marseille, one of the oldest Tarot decks, this image remains untitled. Even though the skeleton is almost immediately associated with death, by not naming it, we are open to interpret this image without the limiting it to just “endings”. In the sky a military jet throws bombs over a ruined city, a nuclear explosion takes place besides it.  The semi-veiled skeleton is wearing a gas mask carries the world in his hands and uses a scythe as a crutch.  This is not only a symbol for death and destruction but also of pollution, decay and sickness.

La Templanza (Temperance)

Along with Justice, Prudence and Strength, Temperance is one of the four cardinal virtues from classical Greek Philosophy. Temperance is also known as moderation; therefore it can be easily linked with the consumer habits of the modern world. An angel is mixing two fluids from two recipients. Traditionally this allegory has been represented through art history with an angel mixing wine with water.  In this version, coke is being mixed.  Bottled water and a gas recipient can be seen near the angel’s feet  to symbolize resources over consumed with severe environmental consequences today.

El Diablo (The Devil)

A strong occult image, the devil along with death is one of the most feared archetypes widely recognized in art.  In Judeo/Christian traditional imagery, the devil has changed its shape from dragon, beast, monster, man, woman to an androgynous being. In this image, the devil is represented as both woman and man with erected penis holding a torch, with bat wings and horned mask, crowning this character as a master/mistress of deception. With beastly feet, the devil stands over the World Bank logo while an enslaved satyr like woman and man are blindfolded and tied up in debt.

La Torre (The Tower)

The Tower in most Tarot decks is shown struck by lightning and with people falling out of the top. This image is usually associated with unexpected accidents but also liberation from imprisonments. The tower in question here is an airport control tower and an airplane is seen flying by while a man and a woman fall off to the ground.  A cannon with a pyramid of cannonballs can be seen in the foreground. The planet Uranus is related to the same themes as well as flight.

La Estrella (The Star)

For this card I was inspired on both the Ryder Waite and the Della Rocca Tarot. This card depicts a kneeling woman holding two jars and spilling a liquid over dry land and water.  Eight stars light up the night sky while a ninth star is represented on a gas station sign. An artificially illuminated bay alludes to energy, hope and optimism.

La Luna (The Moon)

The Moon is one of the richest symbols in the Tarot. It is one of the most mysterious and intriguing cards to interpret. Inspired in both Marseille and Della Rocca Tarot decks, I have appropriated the duo of howling dogs but substituted the crab or lobster in the foreground with Pop culture Futurama’s Zoidberg, a lobster like alien. In the distance we can see an old water tower and a lighthouse. A boat is being guided by the Moonlight reflected on the Sea.

El Sol (The Sun)

After the dark, comes the light. The Sun card from Tarot of Marseille depicts two children facing each other with a protective wall behind them. This image is associated with innocence, childhood and happiness. In this new image, the children enjoy a day at a Disney theme park while they look up at the Sun with the “Target” like logo which happens to be the symbol of the Sun itself.

El Juicio Final (The Last Judgement)

Arcana Major 20 is the Last Judgement in which the Archangel Gabriel is depicted with a loud speaker instead of a trumpet and the dead are resurrecting from shopping carts instead of tombs. In the background a strip mall reads “Mall Depart”. Billboards and large ads can be seen behind the building. The symbols in this image refer to awakening through advertisement and annunciation.

El Mundo (The World)

The final card of the Major Arcana of the Tarot is “The World.  Traditionally this card depicts a nude woman holding a staff and ball while dancing in the middle of the composition with four zodiacal symbols and Evangelists (a lion representing Leo/Mark, a Bull representing Taurus/Lucas, an eagle representing Scorpio/John and an angel representing Aquarius/ Mathew)  at the four corners. In this occasion, the world is represented by the Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus. On the four corners: Guns, Germs, Steel and Imperialism, four great forces that have influenced and shaped the world from the colonial to the neo-colonial.

Detail of Virgen de las Revelaciones
Oil and metal leaf on polyptych panel 31” x 47”
Patrick McGrath Muñiz

"Virgen de las Revelaciones" is one of the 20 devotional paintings that will be featured in my upcoming solo exhibition "Devocionales: Neo-Colonial Retablos from an Archetypal Perspective" to be held at the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum in Mesa, Arizona. The opening reception will be on September 13th, 2013. It is free and open to the public. For more information about this exhibition visit   
If you are interested in purchasing a painting from this collection you can visit or contact Jane Sauer Gallery

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