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An example of work by Robert Lee Munoz
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|The following, submitted December 2005, is from the artist.|
My art, since I was a young man, included many and varied media from photography to sculpting and painting.
Now, as a professional painter, I have chosen the abstract as the
most absorbing kind of art. To me, it provides the freedom
to enter the world of imagination and perception as no other human
activity can permit beyond pure thought.
Very rarely do I approach a canvas with a specific idea or plan.
My process is to imagine what is waiting to appear. Sometimes the
size of the canvas will initiate the work; the bigger the surface, the
larger the ideas seem to be.
I avoid certain areas. The center is a place I rarely focus on or
try to create as a main idea. Working from all sides,
usually on a table or the floor, I think of myself stepping into
the painting and I use this area as a place to play in with colors and
textures that feel good and pleasing and exciting to my eyes.
Shapes and forms become less important, yet, I keep my mind open
to suggestions and will often pursue a design that is compatible with
my chosen colors.
This highly subjective manner of painting can be called automatic or
action painting. Yes, there are many accidents, some are happy,
some are bad. The bad accidents are mistakes. If I can
correct a mistake with another happy accident, then my painting
ultimately succeeds in bringing me joy. I become a happy traveler
in a universe I call my painting.
Once I have finished a painting I can now behold the journey I have
taken and continue to marvel at my experience along the way. No
one can appreciate this better than myself…it represents a happy place
that I visited.
I would hope that my art is viewed as an expression of life as it
unfolds in the inner spirit and manifests the subconscious as
conscious. What one feels can be transformed into what one sees
and visa versa.
It is not that one is always happy or sad, confused or lucid, bright or
dark. It is not that our feelings dictate what and how we see,
nor what we see necessarily that leads to how we feel. But moreover, it
is the constant shifting of our emotions in small and subtle ways that
brings us to a conscious life.
Interacting with a work of abstract art is an experience that without
preconceived ideas or opinions can in fact be enjoyed as much as the
artist enjoyed in it’s making.
It is really not important what I may have thought or attempted to
express…It just happened. What is important now is what you are
thinking or what the painting is helping you to think or see.
Perhaps all life is just an accident and God was just playing around in
his studio one day when it all started to happen…thank God!
An element of my art is based on study and work completed in graduate
courses at the University of Chicago, known for it’s ground breaking
scientists in Physics, Astrophysics, Atomic Energy, Cosmology and
Astronomy. On the micro scale my studies in Microbiology and
Genetics, provided me with more than enough information to form my own
opinions and ultimate theory of style. I am not including the new
science of chaos. By excluding the latter, I discount the idea
that random, or worse, careless expressions exist in my work. I
am held fast to one enormous restriction: “Somehow the flow of light
always remains within the bounds necessary to carve a shape in
phosphorous. To that extent the role of chance is an illusion”.
Robert Muñoz was born in Bridgeport, a poor neighborhood on the south
side of Chicago. Though his father was educated as an electrical
engineer in Mexico, he could only find work as a fry cook when he
immigrated to America. Muñoz’s mother was originally from
Mississippi, where her family had long worked as sharecroppers.
His parents stressed the importance of self-reliance and encouraged him
to follow his dreams. Nothing was out of reach, if he worked for
Muñoz’s search for authentic artistic expression has taken many
years. Aside from a successful thirty year-long career in
Hispanic and public broadcasting, Muñoz also tried his hand at
advertising and even designed a line of beauty products. At 65,
Muñoz has finally reached a point in his life where he can realize his
passion. His passion which originated as a young man where he
developed his skills in photography stayed in his mind and heart
throughout his early adult life and much of which was transferred to
his advertising and marketing endeavors. After his retirement, this was
now an opportunity to explore a full time professional career in art.
The Artist’s Work
Twentieth-century modernism has partly been about proving that the
Renaissance invention of perspective is not necessary in a
picture. Muñoz has brought back perspective to his abstract
painting, reconstructing the artificial world with the use of emotional
lines that twist and spring forward like bees or fire flies.
These lines repeatedly spin in random patterns challenging the eye to
see the landscape beyond.
Painting to Muñoz is only half of the experience. Preparation of
the canvas as well as choosing the materials is, in part, a religious
experience. He experiments with different color, waxes and
varnishes that are dripped on the face of the picture from above.
His paintings are of mixed media which includes several kinds of paint,
pigments that he finds in nature, house paint, store bought acrylics,
paper, and strips of canvas.
Muñoz has studied the work of Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock,
Joan Miro, and Luc Leestemaker, a Dutch-American landscape
painter. Muñoz has also been inspired by Urbici Soler, a noted
Spanish sculptor, whose monumental work, a large sculpture of the
crucifixion called Cristo Rey, is situated on a mountain peak near
Sierra de Cristo Rey near El Paso, Texas. Muñoz is also
proficient in sculpture, using Alabaster he mined from a secret spot
known only to him and the old man who showed him the place.
It is sometimes hard to explain what kind of art I make. I
usually answer simply, “all kinds”. To be more specific, it can
be described as “abstract” sometimes, pure, with no apparent subject
and nothing but color harmony and design, texture and dimension.
In some of my work there are clearly moments of impression, mystical
expression or moods mixed with dreams that resemble reality and perhaps
even suggest it. They stop short in detail however, leaving
nothing more than one’s imagination to interpret and understand.
I am not particularly interested in copying nature or attempting to
improve upon it. My goal is to present my concepts and ideas,
forged and shaped by my life experience in the past, present and
Most of my work beings with a vague idea, a concept floating in my
mind. Sometimes these ideas are triggered by a feeling or vision
that appears quietly or excitedly, not unlike the sense of smell,
touch, or taste. Whatever it is at the time, my impulse is to
catch it, to actualize it on canvas board, paper, whatever is at hand.
Like writing a poem, playing music or painting, making art of any kind
only requires the desire to do so. Yet, artwork is not complete
without presentation and remains silent without interpretation.
I am compelled to share this wonderful experience, to discuss it with
others and perhaps, in some way, to inspire others to create.
Whether it is painting, sculpture, photography, music or even
culinary skills, art is what enhances our culture and brings us
together in an almost spiritual way. The intellectual and
emotional contact we make through art is one of the greatest gifts of
all…that of being human and alive.
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