Gian Manik

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As featured at #4 in Art Collector Magazine’s 2017 list of ’50 things collectors need to know’…

Throughout his practice Gian Manik has sought to represent ‘effect’. Earlier works have explored the concept of reflection, a theme that continues to underpin all of his practice. He works by taking photographs of abstracted surfaces of a source material like crumpled metallic foil that he shoots in a range of lights of different color and intensity that he then translates in oil paint as a re-scaled realist rendition of the photo image.

His works allude to the process of painting and are developed as a form of palimpsest. Every layer is a different type of painting, with quiet and busy passages, gestural sequences, scraped back areas and white impasto surfaces ranging to quite dark; an amalgam of sequences that both reveal and conceal.

Manik’s quest is to conceptually explore the tension between abstraction and representation. The artist describes his approach to painting as ‘almost cartoons’ or ‘a kind of caricature of reality’ as he continues to tackle the idea of mirroring representation and the translation of image into painting.

Gian Manik, Untitled 10, 2015, Oil on canvas, 153 x 122 cm

The artist elaborates:

“Visually the paintings are of the subject of the mirror, translated through fabrics or other more plastic/fluid surfaces to tackle the idea of mirroring representation and translation of image into painting.

Fundamentally, painting explores the language of representation.  The term vibration, when used in the context of my work, represents an in between or liminal space that is created when a painting borrows from a number of visual devices, as opposed to simply recording in a singular style. Representation is the nature of how one expects a predetermined reality. The specific aim of my practice is to investigate how painting the concept of vibration operates in representation.


For my recent practice, I have worked on a series of paintings in the studio that explore this concept of vibration by employing visual devices that borrow both from the abstract and the real.

This is achieved by a collation of photographing abstracted surfaces, which I then render true to form.  By performing this process, from source material via media manipulation and through to exhibition, I attempt to uncover a way to discuss contemporary painting as a tool to re-present the image, rather than reproduce.

Through my work I outline the understanding of how representation is experience, and define what that means in a work of art. Without this vibration, representation cannot justly and originally re-present. By providing an alternative to singular experiences of representation, movement through difference creates a vibration within an artwork.”

Gian Manik completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) at Curtin University of Technology (Perth) in 2007 and a Master of Fine Arts at Monash University (Melbourne) in 2012. His work is held in the collections of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Artbank and Australian and international collections. He has completed residencies at the Perth Institute for Contemporary Art (2008) and Artspace, Sydney (2009).

In 2016 his work was included in Painting, More Painting at the National Gallery of Victoria and as part of an exhibition titled If I Have it, It Will No Longer Be Mine 2010 at the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

Manik’s work has twice been featured in Art Collector magazine’s list of 50 things collectors need to know (2009 and 2017).

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