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April 2 - 27, 2002 at the DoubleVision Gallery, West Hollywood

by Ray Zone

"Shift Site #4," o/c, 12 x 84", 2002.

The oil paintings and monotypes of Ramone Muñoz have a quiet austerity that is elegant and abstract. Working in muted earth tones and monochromatic shades of gray, the canvases understate objective nature and politely insist upon referencing the geologic world.

"Shift Site #2," o/c, 55 x 42", 2002.

"Shift Site #3," o/c, 66 x 102", 2002.
It's a tasteful balancing act. Muñoz has limited the chromatic range of his palette and the representational scope of his imagery to create extremely refined surfaces that have a non-figurative primacy. The delicately shaded surfaces on the skin of the artist's canvas overlap and shift with other shapes and edges, suggesting actions so minute or buried as to be nearly invisible.

The creation of primal abstraction, the workings of the artist’s hand over the surface of the canvas, mirrors the continuous, tectonic shifting of the earth's skin. It is not surprising, then, to find that the artist is interested in "the relationships between architectonic structures present in nature and man-made environments." A fascination with the places where "forms meet and shift" informs Muñoz's current show, titled Dislocations. Much as the actions of the mind see figuration in random forms, the ideas behind Muñoz's paintings gradually surface. But to insist upon their referential importance is to slight the sensitive workmanship which informs their surfaces. The works are contemplative. The meditative states they invoke gradually conjoin painted surface and the subliminal actions of memory.

The layered sections in monochromatic swipes of gray and black in Shift Site # 2 could well be a random pile of granite blocks splashed with nature's storms. Both accident and graceful design reside in its massed forms. A most intricate poise counterfoils a sense of controlled accident.

Shift Site # 3 is the signature work. Extremely muted browns and greys sharply abut each other. A strong centrality with three simple piled squares atop a smudged ellipse of a horizon suggest human intervention within the continuum of nature--structure amid atmosphere.

The landscape-oriented nature of Muñoz's painterly musings continues in Shift Site # 4, an extremely attenuated horizontal work. Further divided horizontally in half by a wavy line that rises and falls, the work once more suggests a landscape or a geological cross-section with two epochs conjoined and their dissimilarities forensically displayed. It is all very subtly rendered with muted grays that whisper in hue and contrast with a barely visible tonality.

Soxous Liquodus, a monotype from 2001, is the he most overtly referential among these works. It depicts what appears to be a horizontal flow of tectonic soil and stone with simple rectangles moving musically sideways. A kind of geologic notation of flowing, epochal time is once again suggested here by the elongated horizontal format.

Explore the embedded references to geology and memory in Muñoz's work, if you like. Or simply let the eyes enjoy the refined tactility of the surfaces and reductive palette. In either instance, you will arrive at a meditative stillness.