SANDRA MANZI | PRESS | BIO | ARTIST STATEMENT | CV
The relationship between painting and photography has aways interested me, and I make paintings in which I incorporate elements of photography in order to explore how we see the world. My work is based on photographs taken by myself and ones taken from many different sources. I layer and juxtapose these images, playing with different variations of a theme, in order to express ideas and emotions visually. Through this process I'm allowing viewers to contemplate the hidden narratives at play and the effect it may have on more of a subconscious level. Some of the general themes that do arise reflect my fascination with human nature, nostalgia, symbolism, memory and how it gets distorted though the passage of time.
In my work, I'm interested in how high resolution digital photography and other technological devices have effected the way we see and experience the world through them, and I'm always looking at ways to explore this by merging traditional realist techniques as created by the artist's hand with digital applications. I have a love for images mediated in some way by technological devices and use them as an aid in allowing me to form these ideas, and I'm always looking at new ways that I can blend traditional painting with them. I find this to be a metaphor for where we are at with technology right now - we are fighting it by trying to keep our humanity, trying to keep the touch of the artist still relevant. Modern technology and social media relentlessly inundate us with imagery, changing the way we engage with reality. My work reflects a crossroads between the traditional and contemporary, technology and our natural environment, the real and the virtual; merging elements of each. The images I choose to paint are usually picked because of their connection to the five human senses, or to human interaction - two things that were disrupted during the the pandemic. I have a desire to paint images that have attracted artists for centuries; such as the portrait, the figure, florals, genre scenes, and cityscapes. But I paint them through a contemporary filter - through the eyes of a world that relies heavily on experiencing life through a mediated digital lens of some sort. This is my starting point, and I use it as a springboard to play with more traditional aesthetic pursuits such as color, the play of light, the tension between realism and abstraction, and composition. Over the last year I started working on a series where I've been manipulating photographs of florals through a photo editing program, using digital filters and slightly shifting layers of different or the same image. I created this series of paintings based on the digital iterations of an image that dates back centuries - bringing the old into a newer contemporary context. Our relationship to images is one of visual overload, and I often layer my images with a lot of detail, hoping to get people to stop and look longer then they would at a photograph. When someone looks at a photo it's usually not for very long, but when they know it's a meticulously hand crafted painting they will look longer. I combine images intuitively and rely on my subconscious for guidance. Through a photorealistic style I draw on personal photography and sourced images, layering and combining images in order to get an emotional response from the viewer - my goal is to stop just before the emotional and visceral reaction turns into a clear narrative. I'm interested in the abstraction that develops in this layering process, and in the shifting of meaning when images are not clearly scene and altered by the layer beneath it. My painting practice explores chance encounters and serendipity - both in my process and in the images I choose, the disappearance and distortion of memory, and the emotional nuances of nostalgia.
Currently, I've been making paintings of people interacting in their urban environment. In this new series I examine the ambiguity surrounding public and private spaces brought on by the constantly shifting boundaries between the two realms in the era of social media. This series invites the viewer to observe the world in which we inhabit, yet in a contradictory way - where the compositional elements suggest they are derived from photographs, but I am bringing you up close shoulder to shoulder with others. I want to 'intensify' the normal everyday things around me by painting them in detail - the detail we can now get with digital photography - combining the touch of the hand with modern technology. By taking everyday objects and scenes of people that catch my attention and then creating a painting of it, I wish to inspire curiosity in the viewer of the people and things they share their surroundings with which would normally go unnoticed.
I use the camera as a source to assist me in gathering information, and I often highlight the way a camera composes and distorts images. I feel that people are now conditioned to look at the world through a lens, whether it's a television, movie lens, or an iPhone camera, to such an extent that they now see it themselves like a lens. But I also try to reveal what the camera can't see, which is the emotion that I feel when looking at someone or something...the subjective part of reality, the nostalgic part, the part that's been altered by the passage of time and memory. My process involves layering images in order to look for relationships between them. This allows me to seek out abstraction in color, form, and texture, between the layers of realistically painted imagery. Foliage and flowers appear repeatedly as a way to add a decorative element to the composition, but also a a reminder of the ephemerality of nature and life itself. My intention is to create more of an emotional reaction from the viewer where the meaning is open ended. By establishing a narrative where I'm leaving gaps, cropping, or obscuring certain images; I'm allowing the viewer to impose their own experiences onto the picture plane.
Cities have always fascinated me and I find that the more routine and mundane events of our urban existence are the ones that require closer observation. I paint them to bring these parts of our lives to a higher level. My compositions reference the casual snapshot and apparent randomness. But despite it's apparent spontaneity, this is deliberate, carefully chosen and meticulously edited image-making. People and objects are layered, cropped, partly obscured and fragmented to deliver an impression of fast-moving, undifferentiated urban life. By taking observations of the urban environment around me and layering and juxtaposing those observations to fracture familiar spaces, my paintings are forcing the viewer to slow down, look, and pay attention to the details of the people, places, and objects around us. Many of these paintings contain closely packed figures of people going about their daily lives. I am interested in the relationships from one figure to the next - how one body presses up against the other, how the tilt or gesture of one figure can be repeated or clashes with the one behind or in front of it. As I paint, I find interesting visual pathways that move the eye through the painting, from one figure to another figure or to a random object from our urban existence. I'm excited by painting the complexity in crowds of people in the streets, as well as the clothing and accessories we take with us - such as bags, purses, cell phones, pets, street signs, and parts of buildings.
2023 - "Paula White Diamond Gallery, "Big Ideas Show", July 2023
2023 - Elaine Fleck Gallery, "Summer Show" July - August 2023
2023 - Centre3 Gallery, Hamilton, Ont., Three person show, Nov. 3 - 28, 2023
2023 - Square Foot Show - Florals, Online show, May 4 - 6, 2023
2023 - Art Gallery of Hamilton Annual Art Sale, Hamilton, Ont., April 27 - 30, 2023
2023 - Dundas Valley School of Art 52nd Annual Auction, Hamilton, Ont., April 10 - 15, 2023
2023 - Ironwood Cider House, Gallery, Solo Show, Niagara on The Lake, Ont., April 15 - May 4, 2023
2023 - Summer and Grace Gallery, "Joy" Exhibit, Dec. 1, 2022 - Feb. 27, 2023
2022 - Paula White Diamond Gallery, "Square Foot Show", Nov. 26 - Dec. 4, 2022, Waterloo, Ont.
2022 - Paula White Diamond Gallery, "Big Ideas Show", Oct. 27 - Nov. 12, 2022, Waterloo, Ont.
2022 - Art Gallery of Mississauga, Second Annual Juried Show of Visual Arts, Sept.13 - Oct. 23, 2022
2022 - Summer And Grace Gallery, Oakville, Ontario
2022 - Art Gallery of Hamilton, Art Rental And Sales Gallery, April 28-May1, 2022, Hamilton, Ontario
2022 - Earls Court Gallery, "Bouquet", April 7 - May 7, 2022, Hamilton, Ontario
2022 - Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Rental And Sales Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
2022 - McMaster Innovation Park, Artist's in the Workplace, Hamilton, Ontario
2021 - Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Rental And Sales Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
2021 - Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, July 2-11., Toronto, Ontario
2010 - George Brown College Gallery, Three Person Show, Toronto, Ontario
2008 - Fran Hill Gallery – “The Portrait Challenge”, Group Show, Toronto, Ontario
2004 - The Burston Gallery, “Crooked Grind”, Solo Show, Toronto, Ontario
2002 - Luft Gallery, “Hockey Card Portraits”, Solo Show, Toronto, Ontario
2001 - West Wing Art Space, “Fleeting Moments”, Solo Show, Toronto, Ontario
1998 - 2007 - Gallery Moos, Toronto, Group Shows, Toronto, Ontario
GRANTS AND AWARDS
2022 - Boynes Emerging Artist Award, 7th Edition Finalist.
2022 - Boynes Emerging Artist Award, 6th Edition Finalist.
2021 - Ontario Arts Council, Exhibition Assistance Grant
2003 -Toronto Arts Council, Exhibition Assistance Grant
2002 - Canada Council for the Arts Grant
2002 - Ontario Arts Council Grant
1988 - B.A., Fine Arts, University of Guelph
1987 - A.O.C.A., Fine Arts/Experimental Arts, Ontario College of Art and Design
1984 - C.T.S.A.D., Fine Arts, Central Technical School, Department of Fine Arts, Toronto