Poetics of Reverie
RARE is pleased to announce Poetics of Reverie, an exhibition curated by Daphne Arthur that features new artwork by her and introduces the drawings of Shanga Manning. The show, which runs from January 5 through February 2, marks Arthur’s second exhibition at the gallery and Manning’s first.
Arthur and Manning cover similar conceptual ground in that their work mines the nostalgia of recreated memories. They believe specific remembered events, especially those of childhood, are life-defining moments that have the ability to influence one’s adult life based on their poignancy, specificity, and tendency to seem present upon their recounting.
Because memories are also a minefield of psychological complications, the recollection of them allows both artists constantly to re-imagine, re-invent, and re-enact these moments. Thus, the process of continually recalling or daydreaming about a past event can eventually result in an altered refrain or copy of the original that may be an idealized version of the truth – a summation of what the artist wants us to see rather than a blow-by-blow retelling of what literally took place.
Arthur’s exploration of memory takes form in a variety of unusual combinations of mediums that have become her calling card for grabbing viewers’ attention and pulling them in. Invoking her own personal remembrances of love, leisure, and hero worship, she has sculpted figures directly onto her canvases so that her narratives literally and figuratively spring to life. The result is that Arthur’s recollections feel immediate and present, as though they are being lived in the present. Her recent series of drawings made by holding paper over a smoking candle feel of another time and place that is both timeless and placeless. Here memory seems to travel both backward and forward from the original event to explore notions of identity and self-worth in women who, like her, are of multi-ethnic heritage.
Manning creates large-scale graphite drawings on paper, where images that revive childhood memories are faint, ethereal, even vaporous, coming in and out of focus depending on viewers’ orientation vis-à-vis the work. His technique has a mimetic relationship to memory in that it is both additive and reductive. He draws the original image on paper – utilizing family members to re-enact his most memorable childhood moments – only to extensively erase it while maintaining a very faint trace of the image over which he will then shade in delicate layers of graphite. What viewers experience are wraith-like renderings of childhood recollections. Manning’s process relates directly to his attempt to recreate the visual behavior of memory. Memories that are more diaphanous are rendered in images that are lighter than those of memories that are easier to recall.
Arthur received a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2007 and her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2009. She has been the recipient of several awards including the Prismacolor Premier Contest Award in 2004 and the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities Award in 2005. Arthur was the Al Held Affiliate Fellow of the American Academy of Rome in 2009. This year she exhibited in the Florence Biennale in Italy.
Manning received a BA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2006 and his MFA from the New York Academy of Art in 2011. He was the recipient of the Senior Sankofa Award at the University of North Carolina in 2006 and the Excellence in Fine Arts Award given by Utrecht Art Supplies in 2011. Manning participated in multiple group exhibitions in 2011, including shows at Sotheby’s Auction House, the New York Academy of Art, Alix Sloan Gallery, Times Square Gallery, and Forbes Gallery, all in New York. He also exhibited in Made in New York, a one-person show at Fredrikstad Art Association in Fredrikstad, Norway.