"I like the idea of presenting a body of work that looks like the pastel Polo shirts of a group of Yale grads summering in the Hamptons smeared into obscurity." - MICHAEL MANNING
Michael Manning is a prolific artist who frequently produces multiple works under the umbrella of a single concept. Since 2010, he's been a contributor to Phone Arts, an international collective of artists who create art on their mobile devices, where he regularly posts abstract digital paintings. In 2013, he started going into Microsoft retail stores and painting on display tablets, which lead to the Microsoft Store Painting series. That same year, Manning created the Sheryl Crow Pandora Paintings, a series of works painted by hand on a touch screen, digitally printed on canvas, covered in clear acrylic, and titled after songs featured on Sheryl Crow Pandora Radio. Wild Fusion, his most recent series, grew out of that practice.
Wild Fusion, as an overarching concept, revolves around the increasing homogenization of culture as a result of the Internet. "It's the idea that everything is subculture so nothing is a subculture, and that it's no longer possible to correlate culture and geography," Manning recently wrote. The series title – a clever play on fusion-style cuisine – serves as a metaphor for the collapse of social barriers, breaking down and folding into each other, as technology becomes more and more pervasive. Each title in the series is formed by pairing unrelated food types to further convey Manning's perspective.
The paintings, though commonly discussed from a conceptual standpoint, are a sight to behold. They are created on a computer using software that simulates the physical painting experience. Thick oils smear and blend naturally, materials react to the texture of the canvas, and paint can be administered using a variety of tools and brushes. Manning's digital compositions are then printed on canvas, to which he applies acrylic with a palette knife, in casual strokes that intentionally misalign. The result is a combination of two paintings: the first, digitally rendered with bright pastel colors, fusing with the other, a transparent composition intended to bestow physicality and gesture. A synthesis of two complementary parts becoming one. (Text by Paddles ON! curator Lindsay Howard)