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Abstract Portraits Explode with Information Overload

Spanish artist José Moñú imagines humans warped by too much stimulation.
June 29, 2016, 2:55pm
El Sastre (2016). Acrylic on canvas, 116 x 89 cm. Images courtesy the artist.

The painted works of Spanish artist José Moñú might look digital, but this is just one the ways his paintings function as optical illusions. Moñú recently exhibited 15 of these medium and large format “dirty paintings” in his solo show, Invisible, at 3 Punts Galeria in Barcelona.

The Zaragosa and Berlin-based artist is part of a group interested in a “new figurative art” that is more inspired by titans of 20th century—Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon and Jean-Michel Basquiat—than any recent trends. Though the Bacon-esque distortion is certainly there, Moñú’s work, with its warped and data-moshed appearance, also resembles the psychedelic brushwork in Glenn Brown’s paintings.

Invisible (2016). Acrylic on canvas, 195 x 160cm.

“In my case, this new figurative art reminds [me] greatly of abstract expressionism but the unique characters that reside in my universe are recognized in an easy and, as experts say, really surprising manner,” Moñú tells The Creators Project. “My concept of Invisible is linked to the intoxication we’re exposed to in developed societies. This overwhelming info stimulus creates fast and even fleeting thoughts showing evidence of how evolved our mind is in contrast to the body, which is increasingly weaker.”

Invisible is a tribute to human ability to create power in the mind, and the role this plays in our daily lives. On top of this, Moñú sees people playing various roles on a daily bases, just as actors become characters.

Sugar Daddy (2016). Acrylic on canvas, 50 x 40cm.

Invisible shows the romantic side of magic,” Moñú explains. “Invisibility has always been one of the most powerful and still surprising resources that magic has counted on. It proves that we still keep some of the children we have been, and we desire more than ever before to be greatly surprised when nothing is surprising anymore.”

Moñú insists that the results of his work in Invisible, and his other paintings, differ greatly from his creative process. He sees the style as “nitid [glossy], clean and colorful,” which is in direct opposition to what he feels is his uncontrolled workflow.

La Aclaldesa (2016). Acrylic on canvas, 162 x 130cm.

“This is a neverending fight where technique tries to take over the innocence,” Moñú says. “I play a game between abstraction and intuitive figuration where I try to leave lots of possibilities open to the imagination.”

“Lots of different and well-diversified things can be seen in my paintings, especially depending on the viewer’s mood,” he adds. “The optical illusion is really produced by the person who’s looking at the painting. Explicit movement can be perceived in some of my works but never more explicit than the movement of a flower or a boar.”

Vademecum (2016). Acrylic on canvas, 162 x 130cm.

Sounds like something Dalí would say—simultaneously full of meaning and nonsense. In any case, with his "dirty paintings," Moñú has found a way of communicating to viewers how the human mind bursts in all directions from near-continuous data assault.

Click here to see more of José Moñú’s work.


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