Rena Bransten Projects

Vik Muniz | Paper Trails

Vik Muniz | Paper Trails

San Francisco, CA USA Thursday, October 16, 2008Saturday, November 29, 2008

San Francisco, CA USA
Thursday, October 16, 2008Saturday, November 29, 2008

Reception: Thursday, October 16, 5:30 – 7:30pm

During October, the Rena Bransten Gallery (77 Geary St. at Grant, San Francisco) will present an exhibition of photographs by Vik Muniz from two new series, Pictures of Paper and Gordian Puzzles. Continuing in the tradition of his previous series, Muniz draws from old master paintings and iconic photographs to reinterpret famous works, using new structural materials to reframe and comment on the content of the originals.

In his Pictures of Paper series, famous black and white photographs are re-created using shreds of paper in all tones of the gray scale. Their historical content suggests an immutable reality but the materials Muniz collages together suggest the possibility of “shades of gray” within any representation. Lewis Hine’s millworkers, Dorothea Lange’s chain gang boss, and August Sander’s shoemaker become richer in nuance when layers of paper remind viewers of the evolving social history they represent. Besides documentary photographs, Muniz also reframes images that have pushed and re-defined the photo medium toward its acceptance as a two dimensional art form. The layers and placement of paper depicting Hein Gorny’s rows of gentlemen’s dress collars, Edward Weston’s pepper, and a Cindy Sherman’s film still #7 present not only the art object or concept, but also reveal an aesthetic sensitivity in the handling of materials and composition.

In the Gordian Puzzles, hundreds of single puzzle pieces are laid out, layered, and rotated by degrees to fit other pieces to recreate the subject paintings that are themselves puzzling. These colorful pieces depict idealized cities of architectural splendors, mythical civilizations, centers of learning, and nether regions – symbolizing the beliefs, theoretical positions, and visions of the artists such as Breugal, Bosch, and Panini, among others. While no site, building, or place is factual – their reality is concretized by the paintings, reiterating Vik’s recurring theme - seeing is believing. This permits a certain latitude between what is and what is not. While you can believe your eyes - myths and visions cannot be proven, but they can be reframed and manipulated – replacing one enigma with another.

Vik Muniz was born in 1961 in Sao Paolo, Brazil; he currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and Sao Paolo. His work is included in current and upcoming exhibitions at the Guangzhou Triennial in China, the Gana Art Gallery in Seoul, Korea, and the Tokyo Wonder Site in Japan.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10:30am to 5:30pm, Saturdays 11am to 5pm. For additional information, please visit our website at