Trick of the eye: Vik Muniz plays with perception at Galeria Nara Roesler in São Paulo
Approximately three decades ago, while studying photography in the 1980s, Brazilian artist Vik Muniz had the idea of playing with notions of perception. For the exhibition ’Handmade’, on view at Galeria Nara Roesler in São Paulo until 5 November, Muniz decided to revisit the idea for his latest body of work. The exhibition begins with Two Nails:
’I went back to the time that I was studying photography when I did not respect the surface of the image, and I thought about Two Nails, the first photograph I took,’ said Muniz. ’In this work there are two nails: one is real and the other one is printed. If you walk towards the work, which is exactly what you are supposed to do when seeing one of my works, it will change: one of the nails will be shorter and the other one will be longer. It is an illusion, but I never want to work with a convincing illusion, I do not want to mislead anyone, in fact, I want to work with the worst possible illusion – which is the name of the first documentary I made.’
Now, with digital photography, Muniz has the opportunity to trick the eye with more precision than he did in the 80s. The artist references the great abstractionists, from Lucio Fontana to Ian Davenport, creating holes like the ones Fontana tore through canvas, and the vivid vertical stripes that Davenport uses in his work. Muniz added his own ’handmade’ touch, mixing in actual torn strips of paper with a printed pattern in one piece, so that the viewer can’t tell what is two-dimensional and what is three-dimensional. Flat or not, Muniz’s works stand out either way, but the illusions add a playful element to the art.