Glamorous women have always been a centre of attention for the bohème: as the artist’s muse, lover and inspiring companion. Philip Munoz, a painter at Jamaica Street Artist Studios, empowers his artwork to impeccably convey the cult interpretation of feminine beauty within contemporary society. Auguste Chocianaite spoke to the artist about the concepts behind his photorealistic works.
Your path towards becoming a painter is quite unusual as you were expected to work in a biochemistry lab instead of expressing yourself in front of the canvas.
“I originally moved to Bristol to study a degree in Biochemistry, however, I always felt art was my true calling. I thought the sensible option was to explore the notion of a ‘proper’ career first. I suppose I should have had the courage of my convictions in the first place but it’s difficult to make these decisions when you’re young.
My parents have always felt a bit disgruntled that they paid to put me through University, for me to not to do anything with, the qualification. But they have always supported me regarding my art as they know it’s what I’ve always truly wanted to do.”
The vast majority of your artwork is photorealistic. Why did you choose to harness a strong Hyperrealism impression and make it your exclusive style?
“I’ve always been able to capture things very precisely when I draw and paint. I feel the level of detail and exactitude I like to employ emphasise the glamorous nature of the people and objects I paint. Hyperrealist really has a certain wow factor (when done well) but its seemingly photographic quality is often a curse. I always look to use photographs to guide and inspire my art but never dictate the outcome of the process.”
“It must be the blueprint for the classic female film star, wouldn’t you say? I think I’m drawing from a pretty well fished pond, if that makes sense. The addition of tattoos and piercings just happens to be what’s particularly in vogue today.
My artwork attempts to explore my obsession with feminine beauty and glamour – arguably an inherently female attribute. I am drawn to those persons who exude a natural (albeit contrived) sense of glamour. A state attained through effort and dedication – tattoos being very permanent trophies of their raison d’être. I suppose the glamour, by its definition (rare, exquisite, desirable and undefinable) keeps me interested enough to persist in finishing the picture. The process of painting the image never satisfies my intrigue, thus I am always keen to start another portrait.”
Let’s talk about inspiration. Artists from all over the world are in ultimate poetical search of their own personal muse. Shakespeare himself wrote that it has a power to ‘Ascend the brightest heaven of invention.’ Apart from glamorous femininity, what does the term muse mean to you?
“I think ‘muse’ is a bit of a deceptive term. In every sense of the word. I don’t really have any muses, although I’m often drawn back to paint the same people again. Luckily harmless infatuation and productivity are mutually inclusive with my work. It certainly helps to paint something visually appealing. It also generally helps the chance of selling the piece.”
Alongside photography, what is your main source of inspiration?
“The inspiration for my portraits is seeing or meeting an individual that wears a style that is visually seductive, who is confident and unique. My ‘Still-life’ window display series that I am currently working on are images I gaze upon when out and about in a city, often abroad where the light is more intense. They are based on a brief yet intense moment captured in a photo and interpreted on canvas from a combination of memory and photo reference.”
How do you come up with the ideas? Do you have a clear image of the final product in front of you before starting to work with your models?
“It’s certainly more a case of the model choosing to accept my intentions to paint them. Also I always like the model to collaborate on how they are portrayed in the painting by styling themselves for the photoshoot which provides the photographic inspiration for the subsequent painting. This collaboration almost always reveals a hidden or unforeseen idea or theme for the portrait so the final product is always a work in progress.”
With his upcoming show at the Albermarle Gallery in London Philip Munoz is all about creating new masterpieces.
“Francis Bacon was driven to paint by the idea that his next painting would be his best ever. I agree with that.”