Philip Munoz showed me an image of his new work, How Many is too Many? (Oil on canvas, 2010-2011). I loved it and asked to see the original, both the skill and treatment of subject matter fascinated me, so I asked if I could write a critical text about the work, Philip agreed and here is the text I produced:
Made for our feet, yet here presented to our eyes by Philip Munoz’s hyperrealist canvas “How Many is too Many?” (2010-2011), shoes have become a byword for commodity fetishism.
Munoz presents these mass-produced objects of desire in his own handmade object of desire – a gaze into a shop window, meticulously rendered in oil paint. The play of light across the windows surface distances one from this clean grid of female footwear, designed to seduce. The grid’s lines are corrupted by obsessive detail, a painter’s eye for the quality of the light, the natural form of a tree’s canopy and the brief silhouettes of the customers within. The title “How Many is too Many?” begins to slip it’s obvious relation to the shoes and relate to the amount of detail the painting contains. To the amount of surfaces which conflict and scream for one’s attention, this everyday moment of commercial seduction becomes a riot of surface, line and illusory depth.
Distance becomes a key question. The grid of footwear distances the viewer from the figures and amplifies their role as faceless consumers, the play of light on glass then displaces the viewer a step further from them. The hot colours of commercial seduction that stoke the drive towards the irrational pleasure that is the basis of commodity fetishism becomes inverted by hyperrealist painting – itself often referred to as a commodity fetish, their heat becoming just one more surface, layered into a work which evokes a cooled moment of distanced reflection on the surfaces of things. A work whose title suggests an exploration of quantities exceeds this and through its own qualities allows one to consider the programmed qualities of the lived environment.
Amongst other recent works, How Many is Too Many? will be on display at the Albemarle Gallery in London from 2nd December to 28th January, as part of the gallery show What Kind of Real?, alongside internationally renowned artists such as Luciano Ventrone and Roberto Bernardi.
More information about the exhibition can be found at http://www.albemarlegallery.com/exhibitions.php