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Daily Helping for August 17th, 2021 – Antonio Muñiz

The image shows a painting by Antonio Muñiz. It is abstract art, mostly in greys, blacks, and browns, with streaks of red and yellow interspersed throughout.

Fire is such a destructive force. Forest fires can wipe out entire towns in an hour. Bushfires can displace billions of wildlife. A simple spark can turn entire buildings into infernos. And yet fire is also the key to our survival as a species. In fact, the ability to create and control fire has been named one of the most important inventions in the history of humanity. It is a strange dichotomy. Certainly one that got me thinking. That’s why for today’s helping, I was curious to see if people ever use fire to create art. Which is how I discovered Mexican artist Antonio Muñiz.

Of course, humans have been using fire for entertainment purposes for thousands of years. The first rudimentary fireworks were created in China over 2,000 years ago, and since then, pyrotechnics have become a staple of celebrations worldwide. But this is a different type of fire art. Antonio Muñiz uses flame and smoke to create the first layer of his paintings. It’s a process called fumage, and I’m not entirely sure how he doesn’t just set the canvas on fire. But he doesn’t, and he continues to layer on paint and more smoke until the image is complete.

The results are extraordinarily beautiful, and I can’t wait to one day hopefully see one of his exhibitions in person. In the meantime, it’s comforting to know that fire doesn’t just destroy. When used safely, it can also be used to create something amazing.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!