Thursday, May 05, 2011

Guillermo Munoz Vera

Even though I've closed my art studio, I'm still an artist, and still interested in seeing what other painters are doing. One of my monthly rituals is to go through the newest issue of Art in America magazine and flag the pages with interesting images. Then I google those artists and study their work. Sometimes there are lots of artists to research, sometimes only one or two. Lately there have been very few, which was making me discouraged, but the newest issue has several.

One of them is Guillermo Munoz Vera, who has a show at the Forum Gallery. This gallery tends toward traditionally-executed, highly representational works. Guillermo's current exhibit is an unusual one: it's made up of about 20 hyper-realistic paintings, all on the theme of European voyages of discovery in the 16th century.

The Cartographer
Oil on canvas

As expected of the Forum gallery, these paintings are exceptionally well done. Besides the unusual theme, several other details caught my eye. For one, all of these paintings were done in 2010 and 2011. Most of them are quite large. That's a hell of a lot of painting to get done in a short period of time. When I looked him up on the 'net, it appears that this is his normal pace. Even allowing for the use of projectors to assist in drawing and color selection, this guy is cranking. I can't do that. I poke along and can work on one painting for months.

For another, I'm wondering where he gets his reference materials. Many arrangements can be staged in a studio, but some of them can't. Cape Horn, for instance, is a large (59"x59") painting of a 16th-century Spanish sailing vessel that's pounding through rough seas under a stormy sky. When you look at the details of the rigging, spray, and so forth, that's not roughed in, it's photographically accurate. He had to base it on photos of a real ship, but exactly how is beyond me.

Guillermo Vera doesn't normally work on historical paintings. Do a google search for his images and you'll see that he's done photo-realistic work of people, interiors, landscapes, Cuban cars, and more. Here's one that resonated with me:

Maia with Kalashnikov AK-47
Oil on canvas

Jolting, isn't it? I'd love to see this work in person.

Just as I don't do abstracts, I don't do photo-realistic works. I like to make representational paintings that are still about painting, where the visible brush strokes are an important part of the finished piece. But I appreciate well-done abstract and photo-realistic paintings. Munoz's are extremely well done. I just wish I could get to New York to see the show.


  1. Holy Cats! This is incredible. Thank you for the posting.

  2. Wow! that last one doesn't even look like a photo at all!