Arcmanoro Niles is an American contemporary painter making a name for himself with distinctly vibrant, expressive, and intimate figurative paintings of people in domestic and suburban spaces. These deeply psychological images also incorporate unsettling surreal entities, offering multiple layers of reality upon one canvas.Read More
Born in Washington, D.C., Arcmanoro Niles studied at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Washington Studio School before pursuing studies at Montgomery Community College's School of Art and Design (2010); Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (2013); New York Academy of Art (2015); and the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (2018).
While Arcmanoro Niles' composition choices, treatment of light, and the poses of his figures reflect his early engagement with art history (he has cited Michelangelo and Carravaggio as influences), his works also subvert stylistic conventions. Avoiding neutral colours, he works with a palette of highly saturated hues painted over rich orange and blue grounds, with sprinklings of glitter to emphasise specific areas. He paints the skin of his central figures with oil paint over a layer of acrylic, giving them a distinctively warm glow.
The subjects in Arcmanoro Niles' work are semi-autobiographical, and the works are often highly emotional and pshchologically charged. His artworks often depict representations of himself and people from his life, set in places he frequents. The paintings from Niles' solo show, Revisiting The Area, at Rachel Uffner in New York (2018), for example, offer the viewer intimate insights into the artist's hometown neighbourhood.
In Does a Broken Home Become a Broken Family (2019), the artist depicts himself, his mother, his sister, and his nephew; using a white vertical line and the countertop as compositional devices, Niles conveys a sense of separation between each family member, indicating his broader concerns regards personal and interpersonal journeys.
In 2015, influenced by a trip to the Brooklyn Museum, where the artist drew an Egyptian fertility sculpture, he began to introduce impulsive creatures he terms 'seeker's into his works. These are cartoon-like figures that sneak into his otherwise realist painting, almost as though of their own accord. The artist has described the seekers as 'pictorial manifestations of our various desires, like devils on our shoulders.' They appear either as ghost-like, sexually charged red line drawings, or as chubby agents of violence, with grins on their faces and often a knife in their hand. Amidst the emotional gravity and solemnity of depicted moments, Niles presents these sexual and violent figures like dark ghosts of the foregrounded subjects' subconscious.
Quickly rising to prominence in the art world, Arcmanoro Niles' art can be found in several major public collections, including the Dallas Museum of Art; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; and Yuz Museum, Shanghai. In June 2021, a solo exhibition of new works will open at Lehmann Maupin in New York.
I Guess By Now I'm Supposed To Be a Man: I'm Just Trying To Leave Behind Yesterday, UTA Artist Space, Beverly Hills (2020); My Heart is Like Paper: Let the Old Ways Die, Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York (2019); The Arena, Long Gallery Harlem, New York (2017); Life was a Party to be Thrown, Beez & Honey Pop up Space, New York (2016).
Afrocosmologies: American Reflections, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford (2019); On Refusal: Representation & Resistance in Contemporary American Art, The MAC Belfast (2019); Mutual Interest No.3, Shanghai University (2014); Promising Artist of the 21st Century, Sophia Wanamaker Gallery, San Jose, Costa Rica (2012).
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020