She is clothed in the softness of the flowing taffeta, adorned with side armor. She stands on bedrock. The softness of a halo back-lighting her in a golden patina. She does not need to raise her hands in prayer for salvation; her eyes are now, as they have always been, cast upward, afire with the belief that she has met every challenge. Whether she has vanquished the ghosts which trod this earthly plane is not at issue. She has fought The Good Fight, and she will be rewarded in heaven.The indomitability of the human spirit incarnate is Woman. So says artist Manuel Nuņez, and, so forceful is the argument made by his work, that it is impossible to doubt his premise.
"My images are of strong women," Nuņez says. "Beautiful, but not exploited. Women who are sensual and virtuous; wrestling with the underlying conflict of what life is versus what it should be."
Nuņez describes the symbolism in his work in the words of a biblical scholar. Not firebrand, but a gentle imparting of the tenets of his belief. Almost every stroke is alive with the artist's own faith and the objects which serve to keep that spirit always in his sight.
Manuel Nuņez was born in 1956, into a family versed in the arts and Latino culture. His father, Manuel Nuņez, Sr., was a well known singer and song writer who recorded nine Spanish-language albums in the 1950's. "I listen to his music all of the time, but it's only now that I really appreciate his music and what he was doing with it."
It could be said that in this atmosphere, the spirituality which shaped his creativity was upon the artist from his first breath. As he grew, it was then only a short leap of logic to jump from an exploration of his creative spirit to his human spirituality. It was a larger leap to then explore his way back from his religious roots to his art. Yet in that very transcendence is the brilliance in which the art of Nuņez resides.
The use of his trademark - a hand-applied 23-karat gold leaf - is indicative of the spiritual roots of the artist and its interpolation into his work. "The gold itself is a dichotomy," he explains. "Gold can, at the same time, symbolize decadence or indulgence and the righteous purity shown in Russian icon art."
In Nuņez' work, these disparate elements reign in conjunction with each other, as does the feminine mystique which combines virtue and sensuality - love and lust coexisting within the compositional expression as they cohabit the body and soul in life. Nuņez has taught at both the Otis Parsons Institute in Los Angeles, and The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, which he also attended.