Gian Manik recently moved from a studio that was located in the bowels of a building and had no windows or natural light. His new space has both ventilation and large windows. The move has serendipitously informed his paintings; lightening his palette and intensifying the texture of the surfaces of his latest paintings.
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 colour and intensity that he then translates in oil paint as a re-scaled realist rendition of the photo image.
His most recent series of paintings from the new studio explore the concept of vibration, evoking pulse and shimmer by employing visual devices that borrow both from the abstract and the real. In the manner of Agnes Martin, his paintings are minimalist in style yet expressionist in substance. His paintings are apparently abstract, yet his preoccupation is with the language of representation.
The sources for the vibration paintings are the foil surfaces of hypothermia blankets or the white reflectors that photographers use to bounce light to intensify a subject and to eliminate shadows.
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.
The artist elaborates:
The artist describes his practice as
which prompts the observation attributed to Motherwell that reality is always the ghost in the machine of abstraction.
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. Recent solo exhibitions include First Outside Inside Last, CAVES, Melbourne, 2015; Foils, Utopian Slumps Project Space, 2014; Big Recorder, Alaska Projects, Sydney, 2013. Selected group exhibitions include 4th Artist Biennial, curated by Christopher L G Hill, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, 2013; Fresh Paint, Sutton Project Space, Melbourne, 2013. Manik was resident at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2008 and Artspace Sydney in 2009. His work is held in the collections of the Art Gallery of Western Australia and Artbank as well as Australian and international
Barbara Dowse, Senior Curator