April 10th, 2009 – April 30, 2009
In a new series of large-scale paintings, Michael Manning reincarnates and contemporizes the stories of ancient myth. Appreciating the diversity of these stories and their message of bravery and altruism, Manning paintings function as “new mythologies.” While retaining a universal significance and meaning, these works comment on current events and issues.
Manning takes as his point of departure Joseph Campbell’s notion that the journeys of all archetypal heroes share a fundamental structure. Manning’s painted figures follow the traditional hero pattern, except that traditional deeds and adventures have been replaced with contemporary actions and common, everyday events. The end results are narrative paintings that use allegorical images to show every day events as equivalent to the actions of a classic mythological hero.
The exhibition is curated by Camilla Cook (www.camillacook.com). Camilla is an artist consultant, whose most recent curatorial projects include an exhibition of Alexander Calder’s work at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY.
Throughout my life I have been attracted to the stories I have encountered in mythology and religion, and this has been expressed in much of my work. At an early age I questioned the meaning and purpose behind these stories and the messages they were imparting. Initially I rejected them, but through exploring them more deeply in my work and in my life, I came to truly appreciate the diversity of how one can choose to live one’s life. In addition, I developed a very clear, open sense of how people should treat one another.
My paintings began to use stories within mythology, along with my perspective of right and wrong, as a framework for addressing current issues faced by society. While my use of mythology has been vital, my current work has established a more immediate relevance. I’ve been able to deal more directly with issues of morality, mortality, and injustice. With the use of traditional mythology as a foundation, I see the new work as a kind of new mythology—new stories, commenting on current issues. These stories have been constructed from my individual point of view, but with universal significance and meaning.
The current series of paintings I am working on focuses on a central archetypal hero figure that uses the traditional hero pattern, laid out by Joseph Campbell as a starting point for many of the paintings. With the traditional hero pattern as a background, the traditional deeds and adventures of the hero are substituted with events found in everyday life. The end results are narrative paintings that use allegorical images to show every day events as equivalent to the actions of a classic mythological hero.