No One Wants to Hang a Bad Picture
Exhibition Duration: 4 - 18 August 2016
by Carlomar Arcangel Daoana
In his first solo exhibition, No One Wants to Hang a Bad Picture, Lui Manaig courageously explores new interpretations of beauty for the contemporary eye saturated with imagery of our ever-expanding visual culture—from billboards, magazines, and the social media. Juxtaposing scenes of destruction and squalor, unflattering angles of portraiture and still lifes with dazzling patterns and evocative forms, the artist escalates the contrast by a unique chromatic configuration, activating the pictorial surface with a vibrant and hypnotic quality, an unabashed youthfulness that bears upon autobiographical and social concerns—from gender identity, to notions of diversity and equality, to acts of self-representation.
For Manaig, painting with its traditional genres—still life, landscape, portrait, and narrative—still possesses the capacity for commentary, of reflecting back inner and outer realities to indicate commotions, ruptures, and unrests. In this exhibition, organized by Metro Gallery, those realities are broken through and by the prism of Manaig’s subjectivity, one that is ever in the lookout for slippages, contradictions, and the elements of the uncanny. His works are not just unique takes on the world we live in but are also indexes of a deep psychological yearning of shaping a personal narrative out of that world.
For instance, in his series called “Aftermath,” Manaig offers us snapshots of impersonal destruction enacted by nature: by flood and by fire. Toilet bowl, monoblock chair, LPG tank, sofa, drowned dog all jostle for space—surviving pieces of evidence of a presumably humming human habitation. “Aftermath Present” telescopes the sense of loss to a tumble of clothes jammed into a box that once contained instant noodles, all the more poignant in the absence of visible catastrophe. We are left asking what happened to the person who owned those clothes. Amid the kaleidoscope of shapes and hues, a sense of desolation haunts these domestic spaces bereft of inhabitants, present as well in works such as “Old Stable” and “Independence.”
Manaig’s series of what he calls “Bad Portraits” is a venture in self-portraiture that attempts to capture the transgressive, the grotesque, the almost surreal. Here, the face wears an underwear, expels neon green vomit, or is stuffed with oozing strands of noodles. The series goes against the grain of having an image of oneself captured in the best possible light, such as the profile picture we affix in our social media account. To be “uglified,” Manaig seems to be saying, is to be individualistic. With the vivid expressions set against grids and patterns, the works are studies in contrast, no doubt, but are also inspired juxtapositions of portraiture and the imperatives of geometric abstraction.
What Manaig ultimately achieves in No One Wants to Hang a Bad Picture is a collection of startling, mind-imprinting works that seek to define the contours of the beautiful and, conversely, the “bad” alluded to in the title of the exhibition—whether in his works that explore social dynamics and hierarchies such as “Silent Heroes” or “Summer Mixer,” or plumb autobiographical reserves such as the “Aftermath” and “Bad Portraits” series. It is to the artist’s credit that such dichotomies (bad and pretty, personal and social) are neutralized, offering us a version of a world descriptive of the one we live in: where boundaries overlap, where beauty lives in the most derelict of places.
ADMISSION IS FREE.
CALL: 759 82 88
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com (Metro Gallery)
LOOK FOR: Lorraine Datuin, gallery coordinator