Paul Manes: Odyssey

Friday, October 14, 2022 10:00 AM - Wednesday, March 29, 2023 5:00 PM
The Grace Museum
102 Cypress Street Abilene, TX 79601
Animus Mundi, 2019, oil on canvas, 78 x 104”, Courtesy of artist and Cris Worley Fine Arts

Paul Manes is a painter’s painter. The artwork selected for this solo exhibition is the ultimate statement of that fact. Surfaces and subjects morph into singular stunning testaments to Manes’ mastery of oil painting on canvases larger than life. Complex and solitary imagery up close and at a distance shares a haunting immediacy driven by the artist as philosopher paradigm.

Contradictions loom large as Manes’ 21st century paintings draw inspiration from the art of Rembrandt, Velasquez, and Goya as well as the surfaces of Pollock and Johns. As a mature artist, Manes has developed a hallmark fluidity of style that is indeed his own focusing on surface, scale, space, light and form. Subjects vary from raindrops, roots and landscapes to cascading bowls and landscapes with titles ripe with philosophical innuendo and references.

While the artist is widely known for his large-scale, representational imagery of aircraft and earth elements such as water, fire, earth, plant life and landscape, clues to underlying inspiration of each painting is often subtly exposed in the titles that reveal intrinsic themes of life, death, power, and freedom as Manes envisions both his personal and social history.

Eimi is the title of E. E. Cummings 1933 travelogue of Russia depicted as glistening lights hovering over a black gorge-like landscape. Harem  focuses on the veil of mystery that shrouds the captives of desire. Abatis is a formidable homage to the ancient battlefield defense blockade formed by felled trees with sharpened branches facing the enemy.  For the ancient Greeks Animus Mundi  is the world soul, an ethereal spirt sheltered in nature nurtured by life-giving rain. A monumental tangle of roots titled Olvidar, Spanish for “to forget or to cease remembering,” questions our understanding of all things lost, suppressed or ignored.

Holding all of these themes together is Paul Manes’ virtuoso painting acumen and ability to bring many vergent themes into one powerful conversation. Paint is energized and emphasized as a complement to the subject and underlying message. On first impression, surface and scale dazzle but that is only the beginning of the experience. Manes asks us to see more, feel more and dive deeper into the intrinsic philosophical and personal challenges of our common human experience.

The Grace Museum is pleased to present this solo exhibition of recent paintings by Paul Manes. One of Manes’ large bowl paintings, The Abyss, was featured at The Grace in a 2013 group exhibition, Suitable Subjects: Contemporary Still Lifes curated to focus on new and innovative approaches by 30 contemporary artists to the enduring subject of still lifes. Much has happened at home and abroad in nine years. It is both reassuring and inspiring to take a closer look at the power of art by this accomplished artist to provide a gateway that affirms the past while simultaneously embracing the unknowable outcome of tomorrow.

Abatis, 2017, oil on canvas, 60 x 66”, Courtesy of artist and Cris Worley Fine Arts

From the curator, Judy Tedford Deaton


Born in 1948 in Austin, Texas, Manes received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas in 1983 and went on to study at Hunter College in New York City. His works have been exhibited in one-person exhibitions across Texas, California, and New York, as well as internationally throughout Italy, France, Monaco, and Germany and was included in the 2016 exhibition Painting After Postmodernism in Brussels, Belgium. Manes’ work can be found in the permanent collections of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; The Hyde Collection, Glenn Falls, New York: the Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, Michigan; Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey; the Tucson Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts Houston; the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont; and in the private collections of Yoko Ono and Emeril Lagasse. His monumental work, The Entry of Christ into Brussels, is one view at the Centro de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Castilla-Mancha, Toledo, Spain. The artist currently lives and works in Carbondale, Colorado. He is represented by Cris Worley Fine Arts in Dallas, Texas.

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