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Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz was born in 1961 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His Father was a bartender and his mother was a switchboard operator. He is New York based contemporary artist, who experiments with media. He is also a professor. He uses different unusual materials to create portraits, landscapes and still life, and then he photographs them to fulfill viewer’s expectations, and delights them. According to the many interviews he gave to media, his grand mother used to teach him how to read. He said he was taught to read words rather than syllables; it took long time for him to learn writing.

And as a result, when everybody else in the school starts writing, talking and drawing as a form of expression. He started drawing only after that, though he was not interested. Because of the inability to write almost for two years in the school, he got into drawing. Though it was pathetic during that time, he has turned into a great artist and that drawing has become part of his life. He says, “Drawing is a way to educate your eye to understand visual information; organizing it into a more hierarchilal way, a more economical way”. He says he never wanted to become an artist.

It occurred to him as he did not have chance to get into any other profession. Muniz attended art school in Brazil for few years. He worked in advertising. He then arrived to USA in 1983. That time, he used to speak very little English and he worked in variety of jobs, and developed his art there. Till date he has participated in number of Solo Exhibitions, Group Exhibitions, and Shows. He is also involved in academic lectures on art. He has a huge fan following across the globe. His first solo exhibition was held in 1989 at Stux Gallery

New York, NY. And the recent solo exhibition was held during January 19 – April 19, 2008, named This Is Vik Muniz, CB Collection Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan (vikmuniz. net). He has won two awards. One was Lideres Latino Americanos, in 1999, New York, USA. The other was National Artist Award in 2005 by the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Also awarded by the Ayutamiento de Madrid, Premio Villa de Madrid de Fotografia, Kaulak, in 2005 (vikmuniz. net). As a young man, Muniz attended art school for a few years in Brazil, and worked briefly in advertising.

He arrived in the United States in 1983, speaking very little English, and worked a variety of jobs as he developed his art mainly drawing and sculpture. His familiar works include two replicas of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa; one was done using jelly, and the other of peanut butter. His works include usage of wire, thread, chocolate cream, and sugar. The materials also include edible substances like spaghetti and ketchup, soil, dust, nails, and also other organic and synthetic snippets. He used small clumps of pigment sprinkled onto flat surface, to make painting of the cathedral at Rouen. He made images with the sugar too.

He used to chocolate to create a portrait of Freud (Sigmund, 1997-98, from the Pictures of Chocolate series) is instantly recognized, the pictorial realism of the photograph challenges the viewer’s visual preconceptions, raising doubts as to whether the image is a painting, a photograph of a painting or the photograph of a chocolate reproduction of another photograph, or of another painting or drawing, for that matter (Cordeiro, 2001). He is thought provoking all the time. His exploration in the power of representation is really awesome. He is often called as master illusionist, but he does not agree it.

He says he does not like to fool people, rather he wants the people think his images as their own beliefs (Aletti). He exhibited his work all over the world. His images show clear picture what he wants to show to the spectators, and what the message behind his art is. One can think, “Can we put our imagination into this much expensive pieces? ” His arts are relatively that much awesome. He painted himself as a beggar. In 1998, Charles Stainback created Muniz’s first retrospective at the International Center of Photography, New York. The exhibition was entitled Vik Muniz: Seeing is Believing and was documented in a book bearing the same title.

A unique feature of his pictures likes in their visual and conceptual irony. They convey emotion and meaning. His works are conceptual and romantic at the same time ( Cordiero, 2001). Though often Muniz’s images look like borrowed from popular culture or from old master artists, it is clearly evident that the arts are not alike. The approach is visibly different. It shows the worst possible illusion, one can expect. It is because of the materials that Muniz use for the images. Like the most serious artist, Muniz also aims reaching unusual number of audience. He wants to engage art history and theory.

He described a path to becoming an artist from Sao Paulo to Chicago and finally to New York, and mentioned about the circumstances that led to the creation of his photographs series, in “Reflex: A Vik Muniz Primer”. Though the materials he uses often seem to be rude, that particular images show a gift of brilliance and humor to the common place. One has to agree that once after seeing the replicas of Muniz, one will definitely forget the original piece of the art and the artist, and will have his images only always in the illusion. His images are very impressive and unforgettable.

He believes normal life is like a second death of life. He believes in having life in a different way, and having appreciations from the people around. This makes him imagine more and get into illusionary thoughts, and do more pieces. This zeal being an artist, leaves a digestion of the image in the viewer’s mind forever, after leaving his galleries.

Works Cited

Veronica Cordeiro. Vik Munez: Three Dimensional Pictures. 2001. Vince Aletti. Vik Muniz : Why Should You Listen To Him. The village voice. 2007 Vikmuniz. Vik Muniz. 2007. < http://www. vikmuniz. net/www/index. html>

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