SHADES AND ECHOES
During the past three years, freedoms and movement through our lives became curtailed for the first time and it was during this period that I felt the desire to express the notion of raising my paint speckled finger to my lack of freedom using the loud and raucous voice of art. Where doors were locked and the world was closed, an expression of freedom through art was a personal rebellion against constraint. Encouraged to huddle fearfully indoors my paintings became a fierce homage to freedom, unfettered.
Alongside this, the unknown nature of the world we were inhabiting, and continue to inhabit, the mixed messages and obscure directives coming from all directions led me to explore the notion of whispers and words buried in layers of complexity - and the need to always question. In a world of mixed and unreliable messaging, bold and definitive statements are rapidly covered over by the shadows of new messages and we as observers see a multiplicity of truths all around us. The act of filling finite and defined spaces with a combination of deliberate and concise messages and free, effusive paint and charcoal began to dissolve my metaphorical bars, contriving an escape into a space where lockdowns and curtailments did not apply.
This collection of works is designed to be viewed from a distance and up close, with messaging and texture that is deliberately ambiguous and personal, part of a larger narrative but also insular and detailed in its own small part of the canvas. An exploration of warm and cool tones was reflective of the swings in the narrative mood, and an exploration of the relationship between linear and chaotic reflects the underlying conflict and tension that resides in us all in these times.
James Manning is a visual artist, digital designer and writer. Originally from Canberra and hailing from a family of artists, James has always had a pencil or brush in hand, and it was inevitable that a career in creative arts would be his path. James left for the bright lights of Sydney after graduating with a graphic design degree and from there worked as an artist, designer and illustrator in a career that spans the globe, from New York to Asia, Sydney and back to Canberra.
In a long and successful career as a graphic designer, James has developed an affinity with colour, shape, form and function and brings a collaboration of structure and freedom to his artworks. Balancing the marks, angles and lines of a graphic grid with the flowing freedom of type form and unconstrained marks, James looks to explore the discordant harmony between the order of graphics and chaos of expressionism. As an experienced designer in digital design where success is based upon pixel perfection, James’ expressive artworks explode away from the constraints of that medium and bring a balance to his creative life.
Working with friend and collaborator, Mexico/New York artist, film maker and producer Leopoldo Gout, James has illustrated a high-profile project for Harper Collins New York involving more than 200 individual paintings and recently illustrated the hit GENIUS book series for Macmillan Publishing in New York. Leopoldo and James have collaborated on screenplays, books and are currently conspiring to do more exciting creative projects in the future.
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