"For Rogelio Manzo, the practice of portraiture is more than a way to capture a likeness. His darkly compelling images of the human figure reflect a blend of cultural influences--as well as an underlying concern with the fragility of life. The artist, who moved from his native Mexico as a youngster, first settled near relatives in Reno, Nevada, then found his way to Sacramento, where he still makes his home. "I really liked it there... it actually reminded me of Guadalajara," says Manzo. "It wasn't too big, or too small. It was perfect."
Returning to Mexico after completing high school in Nevada, Manzo studied architecture while simultaneously making an informal study of painting. But he found architecture "too strict." In the following years, he brought his architectural and drafting skills to play--working in that field to earn a living--until eventually, he made the welcome discovery that full-time commitment to his passion for art was in fact a viable career choice.
Manzo's brush with architecture inadvertently yielded his unusual choice of materials--resin panels designed for use as interior wall treatments. He first manipulates the panels, sanding and preparing them to accept transfer images as well as paint, and adding layers of silk and other fabric. He has experimented with a variety of materials, eventually hitting on a combination that allows a light-infused and reflective surface to mitigate the dark imagery.
While his early paintings were more in the realm of Magic Realism, he became fascinated with the human face. "It's the first thing we see in the morning, of our loved one, of ourselves, everyone..." he says, adding "I went to portraiture because... I wanted to explore who we are, as the human race." Manzo's work is gaining recognition; after shows in Sacramento and San Francisco, and several art fairs, the artist will have work included in a show at Lancaster Museum of Art & History, "The Contemporary Figure: Past Presence," as well as a solo show at Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco, both this fall.
Many of his works combine elegance and decay, "About a year ago I was getting ready for a show in Sacramento and I started painting models from magazines. They're always so perfect, with the make-up, and the lighting... then you go outside and you don't see them, you wonder where are all these people?" Renzo (2011), for example, portrays a brutally handsome man in a crisp striped dress shirt and dark jacket incised with a geometric grid. While his appearance might suggest the elegance and poise of an actor or fashion model, we are startled by distortions: a bent nose, too-full lips and bruise-like discolorations of skin. Where eyes might reveal personality, we find instead empty space where paint has been scraped off.
The artist freely admits his imagery skirts the macabre. While we might be shocked or disturbed by the work, the balance between horror and beauty seduces us in, like a spine-tingling movie giving us goose bumps that are somehow, ultimately pleasurable. Manzo also has a deeper message underlying the work, drawing attention to the death and injustice surrounding us in the world--things which many of us often prefer to ignore. In addition, his work reminds us of our shared mortality "we are here and we have so little time... when I'm painting a figure that is decaying... it's to remind myself that life is such a brief moment."
Manzo's distorted and flayed subjects share a clear kinship with those portrayed by Francis Bacon, an artist whose work likewise explores dark corners of the soul. Rogelio states he finds inspiration in the work of artists from many cultures, but that his Mexican heritage has imbued in him a strong desire to create work that looks "hand-made. I've seen a lot of work out there that looks so perfectly done, so clean, it looks like a machine did it... but for me, I almost have to have my hand print."
Manzo's work is shown throughout USA, Mexico and Europe, at solo and group shows in comercial galleries, museums and international art fairs, most notably in Dubai at DUCTAC, Lancaster Museum in Lancaster, Galerie C in Switzerland, Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco, Muriel Guepin Gallery in Brooklyn, Art Chicago, Art Miami, AAF New York, AAF London, artMRKT Hamptons and San Francisco and Art Toronto Canada."
Born September 1st. 1975
1996-2001 School of Architecture
Instituto Tecnologico de Colima
1998-2000 Escuela de Arte Juan
Arrua (Juan Arrue Art Academy)
Under the instruction of El maestro
Rafael Heredia , Colima Mexico
Diverse drawing, painting
and sculpting workshops.
I'm interested in chaos, accident and the harmony and beauty found within. In my work I provoke the accident to later, during the creative process, embrace it looking for reconciliation and homeostasis. I force myself to create then provoke the problem or demolish to then rebuild within it, Is during this forceful battle where I find harmony and beauty.
...our perception of the world and ourselves is grounded on explicit or implicit agreements in society. I'm instigating this conventionalism and exposing the viewer to a visceral discourse concerned with our own bodily integrity and mortality.
My approach, is to be as pragmatic as I can be, which has allowed me to discover and merge different materials and techniques. I spent my childhood and younger years in Mexico, when I had the opportunity I used to go visit artisans to their shops, and in my younger years I traveled to some of Mexico's major art crafts producers states like Jalisco, Michoacan, Oaxaca, and the central Mexican valley, there I visited several shops of recognized artisans, and was inspired by the richness of materials and variety of techniques, color and textures they fearlessly use, their passion to make their work look "hand made" has deeply influenced me on what an art piece should look like.
The process is relatively complex and it has taken me quite some time to be able to understand the materials I use. The pieces are done over resin panels and canvas. On the panels pieces, I use panels that allow me to layer oil paint, image transfers and laser prints or a combination of all, on both the front and the back surfaces to create depth and provide a place for light to play. I work my way through the panels by altering its finish. All this play with back and front of the panel is to try to distort the image and play with the viewer's visual experience. I sometimes, especially in larger pieces, have to cut into little squares the print to be able to handle the transferring process by hand. The face and body are mainly done with oil paint, but sometimes would combine materials here too . I slowly build up a visual effect reminiscent of flesh and bones, through a wet-and-dry-layer-after-layer process, and mixing techniques tendencies of the classic masters like sfumato and chiaroscuro to create drama and a realistic effect. I sometimes would also paint some of the garments on front or back to create additional layers. I'm mostly interested
in the expression of the piece with a touch of reality to keep my work grounded to it..