Jaime Muñoz b. 1987


Jaime Muñoz is a Pomona, California-based painter whose works emblamatize the abiding struggle between humans, technology, and labor. His glimmering, pictographic compositions convey a masterful blend of representational precision and allegorical motif, suggesting a charmed space where everyday life is nurtured by magic and myth.


“Even though we are a part of nature, we also live in conflict with it,” says Muñoz. “Throughout history we’ve made great efforts to improve civilization through work, industry, and technology. These moments of progress have also led to exploitation and destructive behaviors. This unresolved conflict is a central theme in my work.”


Among Muñoz’s recurring motifs are utility trucks, horses, and dimensional text—imagery drawn from Muñoz’s personal background. More than direct figurative references, these are symbols inviting viewers into a world of post-capitalist iconolatry informed by centuries of colonialism and commodification.


“The truck becomes emblematic of the circumstances of dehumanization that the worker experiences in their struggle to survive,” says Muñoz. “It operates like an index of this moment in time within our modern life experience. I compare it to the invention of the wheel, or the discovery of the horse, and I think of the ways that this truck reflects the circumstances of industrialization. When I use this index in my work, I intend to visibilize these hidden experiences of the worker, as represented by the truck.”


Images of horses operate in a similar context within Muñoz’s visual lexicon. Muñoz recalls a conversation with his grandfather about how shifting trends of industrialization over his lifetime affected life in his small pueblo in Mexico. 


“He noted that his horses were his pride and joy and he loved taking great care of them because they always took great care of him,” Muñoz says. “He stated that machines also require to be fed just like the horses, but with petroleum, and added that this method was less self-sustainable environmentally and that the change he was witnessing due to industrialization was imposing a threat to his sustainability and his lifestyle.”


That conversation influenced Muñoz’s early video work, Working Title, which shows a split screen image of a Toyota work truck and a horse crossing a landscape, inviting associations between the horse and the objectification of the machine and its operator.


Aesthetics coexist with the sociopolitical in Muñoz practice. As with the subject matter he is addressing, there are aspects of his practice that are seen, and aspects that are unseen. His methodology is heavily influenced by his background in construction, commercial art, and design, and his physical processes relate strongly to printmaking methods such as woodblock and silkscreen.


Muñoz carefully plans his compositions using a mixture of analog and digital drawing, and many of the texts in his paintings are rendered in a font he created. The superabundant presence of his paintings’ richly textured surfaces is the result of a slow, deliberate process of building multiple layers of acrylic paint, glitter, texture paste, and paper. As aesthetic objects, his paintings carry an identity that both informs the narrative of labor and humanity that is present in the work, and is informed by it.


Muñoz earned his BA in Fine Art from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Recent exhibitions include Beyond The Streets On Paper, Southampton Arts Center, Southampton, New York, USA; Evocations: Celebrating the Museum's Collection, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas, USA; 4 Threads, Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, California, USA; and How to Read El Pato Pascual: Disney’s Latin America and Latin America’s Disney, MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, CA. His work has also been featured in the LA Times, Hyperallergic, JUXTAPOZ, Artillery Magazine, and Pacific Standard Time, among others.