2014 International Art Festival
Artist Official Entries
michael manninggreenwich CT USA
The dual and ambivalent nature of human beings has long been a dominant theme in my work. My paintings often situate human and animal figures in otherwise abstract environments. Although recognizable forms are asserted with dynamic lines and bold silhouettes, overlapping transparencies can lend them a subtle, shadowy presence. My process is typically revealed in visible layers of drawing and painting that introduce, deconstruct, and nearly wash away my protagonists. This layering functions as a record of creative time and change, but can also insinuates multiple sides of a person or situation. While my work is driven by process and formal decisions, the subject matter is often inspired by universal moral messages found in mythology and religion. Combining formalist ideas with specific content may seem contradictory, but it allows me to find a certain purity and maintain an allegiance to the canvas in front of me, while also addressing broader questions of morality and human nature. For me, the iconic messages in mythology and religion are a springboard for commenting on issues faced by contemporary society. The resulting paintings are allegorical, and depict ideas that are as significant today as they were 4000 years ago. A horse dominates a recent series of paintings, and is sometimes combined with a human figure. Appearing in awkward, unnatural positions, these forms become metaphors for human behavior, especially our depraved tendencies. While reflecting a human capacity for empathy, the unsettled figures also conjure egregious acts of cruelty. Faded, washed away, and redrawn in multiple layers, my images create a visual language that suggests the dual and often contradictory sides of human behavior. The paintings are an ongoing balancing act between abstract and concrete imagery, and convey a message without overtly telling a story.