Silverlens Gallery presents Dashiell Manley's eponymously titled first solo show in Asia. An American artist of Japanese descent, his new work will be shown via a hybrid offline, online format that allows access to the gallery itself on-site to see the paintings and on the internet to view the other half of the show located in Los Angeles. This format is recent for Silverlens, a reminder of today's reality where conventional modes of mobility and access have been upended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With that in mind, the paintings feel even more urgent. The Los Angeles-based artist's work explores abstract meditations on rhythmic movement and the passage of time. In "across open space," white petals of thick oil paint sit on top of the canvas, but instead of brush strokes, we see soft ruffles on each one made with a palette knife. They are streaked with color and are either painted upright or sideways, like shifting elements of a landscape. Holding back these delicate, undulating fins at the bottom of the canvas is a vivid red, blush, and blue shoreline. "Gone, a remembrance" continues with the same style of gestures, but as you lean in closer, each delicate shell dabbed in layered hues seem to flutter and swirl in opposing directions. The effect is of quiet disturbance. In his past work, Manley has said he painted through mindful meditation and let it show on the canvas when he veered away from the focus at hand.
In another set of paintings, he uses fragments from articles posted on the Philippine online news site, Rappler. One wonders at the uncanny timing of it that these paintings made in 2019 should be shown in the year press freedom would be under attack. It is also not the first time the artist has reinscribed words from journalism. A previous series of work was based on distressing headlines taken from The New York Times and The Financial Times. Words from a Rappler article are scrawled on canvas using watercolor pencils in "Heavens No, October 22 2019, 15:19, (www.rappler.com)". The sentences and words overlap, fade, and bleed into each other in colors of yellow, red, and blue. Some are legible, and some are not. The language found on the internet is accessible to anyone from anywhere in the world, a shared resource able to be moved around. Here Manley takes online news past its prime, and shifts it inside the frame of a canvas where it becomes specific, valuable, and maybe even more legible in meaning than it did in its original form.
For "sites-watchdog, October 22 2019, 15:12 (rappler.com)", the transcribed text on canvas looks like a bruise healing from afar in smeared shades of purple, black, and red. The sentence fragments go up and down the canvas from one end to another. At one corner of the Rappler paintings, are silver strips that remind you of scratchcards with a string of painted symbols or emoticons, another layering of marks on the base of already embodied signs.
Manley's practice continues to experiment on movement and the meditative by pushing the abstract elements of line, texture, form, color and value on canvas while also being emotionally altered by the process himself through his personal reflections of it.
He is represented by the Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco. His work has been regularly exhibited in prominent institutions across the United States including the Whitney Biennial in 2014 and the Hammer Museum's "Made in LA" Biennial in 2012.
Josephine V. Roque
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