Roberto Polo Gallery

The Gallery will close for Easter on Sunday, April 16th, 2017;


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Press Release I Werner Mannaers I The Scent of Mimosa
20.11.2014 – 01.02.2015

Roberto Polo Gallery is pleased to present a series of recent paintings by Belgian artist Werner Mannaers, born in 1954 in Schoten, who lives and works in Antwerp. His paintings are in oil, acrylic and other media. Mannaers has become a key figure in the world of contemporary painting over the past 30 years, influencing many important artists. His works are in private and institutional collections, such as the Municipal Museum for Contemporary Art in Ghent (S.M.A.K.), which held a major solo exhibition of his work in 2008.
If Mannaers' painting calls out to us, arouses our curiosity, or disturbs us, it does so, because it reveals itself as profoundly intimate. From the start of his career, he has defended the powerful link between painting and the inner self, countering the trend of the depersonalisation of art. And yet the effortlessly delivered messages of his paintings, at once personal and universal, are not immediately clear. The artist dodges the pitfalls of 'facile' painting, provoking us, shaking established orders, inviting us to take a long look at his canvases. His painting puzzles by reconciling, a priori, complex and contrary pictorial elements. He reconciles figuration and non- figuration, narration and formalism, geometric abstraction and expressionism. He subtly associates antagonist forces by putting these at the service of an improbable meeting of emotion and concept. Geometry, fundamentally cold, is omnipresent in Mannaers' painting, but while challenging disorder, it is amplified by his expressive brush strokes. He marries drip painting, collage, as well as bright, intense and raw colours, with asymmetrical shapes and haphazard lines, thus creating a balance in inconstancy.
Mannaers' titles are not accessories but an integral part of his work: loaded with ideas, they encourage the viewer to enter into the painting and seize its meaning. He creates a symbiotic relationship between his painting and its title, without ever totally revealing its meaning. He thus gives birth to an open movement with multiple readings. The title of the exhibition, The Scent of Mimosa, is ambiguous: it may be interpreted as a reference to the season when mimosa blossoms - from November to February - or to the period of Mannaers' exhibition and, a fortiori, a wink at Bonnard, Cézanne and Picasso.
Not a day goes by without Mannaers picking up his brush. His painting is like an intimate journal and thus closely woven into his personal life and experience. Mannaers' paintings are enigmas referencing his inner world, expressed with both authenticity and subtle scorn: sometimes riddles in the Flemish tradition, sometimes opinions, each embodying both a specific emotion and an idea requiring the viewer's participation. Indeed, Mannaers provides us with clues, without ever imposing the obvious. He hides, cheats, and creates mysteries, but with cunning and wit. The artist engages in friendly manipulation, leading us to his own truth. Beyond the artifice of structure, what prevails, above all, is the honesty of his daily activity. Werner Mannaers bares himself, encouraging a self-critical voyeurism.