"Every brushstroke I put on the canvas or every line I draw on paper are small fragments of reality; they are sweet experiences that come alive and convey emotions."
Gabriel Muñoz was born in Bolívar Cauca, a municipality located in southern Colombia in the year 1980. His childhood was related to art, drawing, painting, sculpture and music. He remembers with special affection in his childhood at approximately six years of age an anecdote that showed him the way forward for the rest of his life. By that time, an album of the Simpsons songs, the animated series, was fashionable, thanks to a friend he acquired a copy of an original cassette whose cover had a drawing by Bart Simpson. Gabriel recorded the songs but did not have a printed cover for his cassette, so he decided to make it, took brushes and paint and made a copy very similar to the original, he was fascinated with his result because he did not get any help and understood that he had the ability to draw and paint, from that moment he knew that Art would be his life.
"Simply draw a small detail, imitate the shapes of a face, the wrinkles of the skin, the arabesques of a garment or the details of an object to keep latent feelings and memories that fade over time."
Gabriel continued with an obsessive need to create new images to his satisfaction. To surprise himself, of course, he used the technique in his own way, empirically he drew, later he painted his projects with paintings generally used for walls and artisanal uses. His great motivation, and daily proof, added to the test and error in his projects what they led to was a marked improvement in his skills. His models were portraits of magazines, superheroes, family photographs or craft projects where they required a sketch for their elaboration. The excellent invoice that he obtained in his finishes, according to his concept, led him to create personalized products such as hand-painted t-shirts, invitation cards, informational posters, advertising, in general, obtaining profits in each elaborated project.
In his early teens, he obtained his first job as a librarian where he found an immense collection of art history books for his fortune. Of course, he carefully studied each artist of different periods, found great fascination in the works of Rafael Sanzio, Leonardo da Vinci, Miguel Angel, Caravaggio, and Rubens among others. Gabriel motivated with these artists tried to copy many masterpieces with the firm intention of improving his technique. This period of his life would mark him forever because he never again moved away from the influence of classical art in his works.
Convinced that art would continue to be his path, he entered the Faculty of Arts of La Universidad del Cauca in Popayán Colombia, where he obtained the professional title of Master in Plastic Arts. He continued to perfect his technique especially in oil portrait and graphite drawing, dry pastels, and mixed media among others. For the elaboration of his plastic works he uses photography as a reference, seeking as always that influence of his classical masters. From them he takes as his influence the masterful use of lighting, the poetry of color, realism in his figures, chiaroscuro and dramatics. The use of photography as a reference has been and continues to be one of his main tools; however, at present he makes use of photography as an independent means for the creation of his personal projects, again with the influence of classical art and cinema.
Gabriel Muñoz has exhibited his work in different parts of Colombia. He was invited by the Ecuadorian consulate to exhibit his work in the maximum hall of the municipal palace at the Yamor festivities, he obtained honorable mention nationwide for his degree work, entitled "In memoriam" where the best grade works in Colombia are featured in the Museum of contemporary art The minute of God in the city of Bogotá where he has exhibited his work on previous occasion.
He received honorary mention at the national level for his participation in the national hall of art diversity in the Gallery Square House of the city of Bogotá. He participated in the exhibition contest "Plastic Arts France in Colombia" in Cali, Colombia. He has made several exhibitions in the contemporary art room of the Faculty of Arts in the city of Popayán, Colombia. As well as in the exhibition hall of the State Bank and other institutions where he has exhibited painting and realistic drawing. He also obtained institutional recognition by the head of the department of arts and faculty for his exhibitions, in the same way he obtained institutional recognition for his thesis project and his honorable mention granted by head of the Department of Plastic Arts of Popayán. The rectory of the Universidad del Cauca recognized him for his work in the artistic and cultural field. He won second place in the photography contest Marca Popayán awarded by the city's chamber of commerce. His work and awards have been published in local newspapers in his city where he currently resides.
Gabriel continues with his personal projects tackled from pictorial realism, realistic drawing and artistic photography. He uses as memories the memories, the passage of time and his eagerness to retain them, to keep them latent and capture them so as not to forget them, that way generate emotions for those who identify with them, his main models are the members of his family.
Gabriel’s artwork offers you an intimate moment with your own memories. With his art you find yourself in that instant where you are between reality and illusion. Where a dream can be so real and the current reality is simply lost in the realm of dreams. Gabriel gives us beautiful moments full of liveliness, flavor, and hope. The depth of colors, the details, the intricacies simply sweep you off to another reality. His art leaves you wondering what more could there be, and is more really necessary.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. The artist has the ability to communicate ideas, in the case of Plastic Arts through spots, colors, strokes, materials, etc., is able to convey emotions, feelings, concepts that perhaps sometimes with words are not transmitted. The artist converts the words into images and they reach your heart and your thoughts producing a positive or negative effect, through the ties it is possible to sensitize and by being sensitive a better society is created.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. I always had the conviction and the urgent desire to become one of the best artists and painters in the world, to be recognized worldwide as one of the best of all time. Surely, I had other dreams, but none compared to this.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. Since I made my first drawing I felt a great interest in always dedicating myself to art, but seriously since in my adolescence I found a collection of Art History books in my work, when reading and copying many artists I felt that I wanted to be like them and dedicate my whole life to drawing and realistic painting.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. From the masters of the Italian Renaissance, Baroque and some other periods, from these periods I took some characteristics that I have tried to apply in my works. For example, the lighting of Leonardo da Vinci in his chiaroscuro with perfect vanished and the details in his figures have always captivated me, Rafael Sanzio is interested in the delicacy in the treatment of the skin in his Madonnas and children, Caravaggio definitely chiaroscuro and drama in his compositions--I try to keep these technical aspects when initially photographing my models, I continue in photoshop to get what I have in mind, finally to get my image closer to what I am looking for. I take that image as a reference to draw and then paint. I work for successive layers, from the beginning I look for detail in some areas, then I apply a new layer more loaded with pigment and with more precise details, I work for separate areas and color and blur where they join, I apply some glazes and I try to maintain and respect the detailed previous drawing.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. The concepts that I choose for my proposals are generally personal like my family and the memories, as for the latter I try to obtain a link with the past, capture memories so as not to let them escape and translate them on paper or on the canvas. This way I avoid that my memory plays a trick on me and I miss important moments in my life. When drawing or painting I feel that I bring with each stroke a piece of the soul of that memory and when I finish my work I feel that it is a set of memories captured and a new experience.
When capturing moments I consider that memories become images and images become autonomous and independent, they no longer belong to me, they belong to those who identify with them. I seek to generate emotions or feelings, create awareness about the importance of the family, perhaps the most insignificant details are the most significant in my proposal, perhaps those details are the essence of a home.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. Perhaps being more detailed, more observant not only in art but in my personal life. I tend to think that everyone sees or notices what I do, so sometimes this has caused me problems, on the other hand sometimes being in my workshop for a long time. I feel like a hermit in the real world.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. I have lost friends because my work demands that I be locked up and I don't have much time available for them, I have sacrificed family walks, I have had to occasionally sacrifice plans with my children such as trips to the movies, etc., for pending commissions or because I need to finish some project, of course my family does not understand me and I end up feeling guilty.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. Some of the masters of classical art and currently masters such as Antonio López García, Claudio Bravo, Gottfried Helnwein, Daniel Graves, Ron Mueck, Alyssa Monks, Odd Nerdrum, among others. I am interested in the photographic proposals of Annie Leibovitz, Erwing Olaf, Gregory Crewdson.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely, what do you do to counteract it?
A. I usually work locked in my workshop, but interrupted happily by my 2 beautiful children. I consider that it is essential to focus on each stroke and in every detail to move forward satisfied in each workday, this, of course, separates me from the whole world and my colleagues and friends; therefore in my case and due to the characteristics of my work, my artistic life is lonely during the creation process, during exhibitions or events related to art, things change and to counteract loneliness I occasionally visit the workshops from my colleagues, and I share quality time with my family.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. I like walks and family trips, outdoor walks of course with my camera always thinking of the best angle for my next painting or drawing, I like doing sports like basketball and swimming, I really enjoy going out to the movies with my family, likewise the good food of my country, I love the studio photography sessions for my personal projects and for commercial contracts although photography is art, but I enjoy it in the same way.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. Regardless of the concept being addressed, I am convinced that to make art it is necessary to feel passion to communicate with sincerity what I seek to convey. It is vital to feel every stroke because they must leave from your heart. When I take a photo as a reference, I subtract small fragments of its soul, when I look at it in detail again and again and emulate its shapes with colored strokes on my canvas, I feel I steal its essence, to give way to a new life that engenders the finished work.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Success for me means having achieved the goals and objectives that I have proposed on a personal and professional level. It is also to understand the differences, culture, idiosyncrasies of each human being and to live with tolerance in a society full of positions and ideologies
As for art, success would mean having obtained an own style, being able to communicate my ideas assertively, making my proposals move, touching a sensitive fiber, managing to arouse emotions through the use of technique and of course through the coherence between my brain, my heart and my hands, and obviously being recognized for the quality of my works.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. I have developed the technique of oil painting and various drawing techniques within realism where I constantly progress obtaining results that fill me with satisfaction and my main pride is that I developed these methods in a self-taught way, later I entered the University but already had a lot of knowledge acquired through trial and error. I have learned to translate my concepts or ideas into graphic proposals either in drawing, painting or in photography.
I finally learned that I must be true to my convictions. I refer to the realistic figurative painting that is what really fascinates me and that since I was a child it has kept me focused.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. The best advice I have received is from my mother, she says that I should never give up in the pursuit of my dreams, that no matter how difficult the path in art or life is , it is always light and that the constant and sincere work made with love always brings fruits.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. I would advise them that art is a path that must be followed by passion and discipline when there is a real passion for what is done, there will be time to continue our work and it will be a time of joy. In harmony with the spirit, nothing should prevent the dialogue between the creator and the canvas, this added to the discipline will undoubtedly lead to the goal you set for yourself.