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oscar munoz


Óscar Muñoz is something of a gentle magician. His ‘disappearing’ drawings are poignant and beautiful, combining consummate skill with conceptual subtlety and rigour.

Muñoz is a senior Colombian artist. He plays an important role in mentoring younger artists but his own work is very focused on a personal language that is closely tied to the body and its disappearance. His work has always combined traditional drawing skills with video in a completely original and surprising way.

Although Muñoz is not assertively political, his work is more about mortality than specific acts of violence but it is impossible not to look at it in the context of Colombian life. A common technique for social control has become the ‘disappearing’ of people. The work shown in this exhibition, Biografías 2002 is structured to reflect this pervasive theme of disappearance.

Biografías is one of a series of works in which portraits slowly disappear, reflecting the disappearance of people on a regular basis in Colombia. Muñoz has made silk screen portraits of people but instead of forcing ink through the screen onto paper he has dusted fine coal dust through the screen onto a flat basin of water. The portrait in coal is then transferred to float on the surface of the water. After a while the water starts to drain out of a plug hole in the basin causing the image to begin to distort. Eventually the image is compressed becomes unrecognisable and finally disappears down the drain. 

Five such portraits are shown in Biografías by projecting video of the performed drawings onto screens on the floor complete with plug holes beneath which you hear the sound of water running down the drain.  

This exhibition is part of the re-launch of the gallery’s level 2 Contemporary Collection galleries.


AGNSW contemporary galleries are generously supported by the Belgiorno-Nettis family 

Level 2 Projects are supported by Andrew Cameron 

On view:19 February to 14 June 2009
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road
The Domain, Sydney
Telephone:(02) 9225 1744 or recorded information (02) 9225 1790
Hours:10am to 5pm 7 days a week
Art After Hours every Wednesday until 9pm
Media Information and Interviews:Claire Martin
(02) 9225 1734 or 0414 437 588

IMAGE CREDIT: Oscar Munoz Biografias, 2002 (detail) five-channel video installation with sound. Courtesy of the artist and Galeria Alcuadrado.