Flask", "The Plate" and "The Exchange" (El
Intercambio) are three new paintings I just sent over to La Antigua Galeria de
Arte in Antigua Guatemala. For all three works I used friends that live in Guatemala
as models for the characters. All three contain narratives
that relate directly to the Neocolonial status of not just Guatemala and other
Central American countries but of many more across the globe. The readings of
Yuval Harari and Jared Diamond have been influential in my work. I find more
and more clearly the historical connections and continuous line that bridges
Imperialism from the ancient world to the European conquest of the Americas to
the current global colonization by large transnational corporations. What
drives this unity for conquest and domination is a blind belief in the fiction
of money and power. Today money seems to the universal religion that unites all
in a common capitalist cause. When animals are seen in
merely utilitarian terms, as objects and not as beings with rights, they
become mass produced food and commodities. These in turn become
processed objects valued in monetary terms. The same happens with many other
precious natural resources from water to plants to the land. All
becomes subject to the rules of the market. This belief in the supremacy of
capital is ultimately contributing to the destruction of almost
everything that lives on this planet, therefore leading to the
suicide of our own species. These works reflect on our histories,
inherited myths and current fictions.
The Plate 18" x 24" Oil on canvas by Patrick McGrath Muñiz.
A standing woman holds and shows us a plate that resembles an old Mayan plate. On a closer inspection we discover that the Mayan figures painted on the plate allude to a modern day fast food franchise. It suggests socio-economic power hierarchies from the past to the present reflected in food production and consumption. Behind her we appreciate two painted figures from a mural. The Ancient Egyptian and Greek youths are accompanied by oxen and symbolize animal husbandry and agriculture, two important revolutions in the history of humanity that keep evolving to this day with the industrialization and mass production of GMO's across the globe. The haloed corn serpent around the woman's head, is Ouroboros, the serpent that eats its own tail, which also symbolizes the eternal cycles in nature of life and death. The imagery in the painting is meant to evoke food by utilizing symbols associated with it that at the same time control or influence the way we understand and consume them. The plate is old, the plate is broken and it is also empty, just as the whole idea behind the sanctity of food in an age of corporations.
El Intercambio (The Exchange) 24" x 24" Oil on canvas by Patrick McGrath Muñiz.
In the painting El Intercambio (The Exchange) two men
pose in front of a Central American landscape and meet at a table. The one
on the left represents the indigenous cultures and their beliefs. The one to
the right is inspired after Saint Isidore the laborer, who was aided by an
angel who plowed the soil. This character represents the West and holds a pomegranate seed on one hand while
holding a coin on the other. The pomegranate symbolizes Pluto, the Classical
god of the underworld, power and riches. An inscription on the coin reads: Monsanctus Dominus Global, in
allusion to a large transnational seed
corporation's global dominion. The apparent transaction occurs between two different
cultures and belief systems. One places its faith in the god of money while the
other holds Mother Earth and the natural world as sacred. The inscription below
reads: Fatali Pretium Fructuum (The predestined price of produce) We can see
that the gold coins on the table are really chocolate candy gold coins, a
commentary on the created fiction and value of money. From the military drone
to the flying saucer in the sky, the scene is a reflection of past and present
conquest, colonization with its shock doctrine and myths of progress and
development. Who will benefit most in the end from this exchange?
The Water Flask 18" x 24" Oil on canvas by Patrick McGrath Muñiz.
A woman holds a green round flask
on her hands with a yellow halo around her. The flask is inspired after a Menas flask, a particular kind of small
ancient terracotta flask sold to early Coptic Christians as containers for holy
water. In this case the iconography of St. Menas of Alexandria has been
replaced by the Nestle Logo, one of the largest transnational food and water
corporations that has been responsible for unethical exploitation, water
extraction, pollution and other fraudulent activities in a number of countries
from Ethiopia to Colombia. The illegal appropriation, branding and re-selling
of water as a commodity is just the tip of the iceberg from a deceitful corporation that paints itself as a "Pure Life"
nurturing Icon. In a painting as in our own lives ruled by corporations,
appearances can often be deceiving. This
brings us to question: Who has the divine right to water? Who has the right to
sell it and who can afford to buy it?