To encapsulate the oeuvre of Andrew Manaylo thus far, candidly, is no mean feat. A chronologically drawn trajectory certainly demands recognition of pinnacle works defining various phases of his career.
Starting off, regardless of how original, potent, or intricate an artist’s medium of expression is, their individuality or the articulation of the "inner self" mandates mastery over the craft. An artist must grasp the nuance of brush handling, the fusion of colors on the palette, drawing prowess, color application, and the intricacies of composition. Devoid of this knowledge, one cannot tap into the profound depths and representation of art. Andrew Manaylo realized this early on.
The Multifaceted Nature
Simplifying somewhat, his initial foray into painting prominently celebrated the vibrant world of nature. During this phase, he aimed for aesthetic goals, venerating natural phenomena and their chromatic interplay. For him, discovering harmonic colors, the expressive potential of painting, the liberty in methods and styles, and an open-minded approach to techniques – all mirrored the wonder of nature. In my estimation, at this time, his paintings bore a theoretical kinship with Impressionism. A thought-provoking statement about Cézanne comes to mind from my readings. Cézanne, who began with the Impressionists, later remarked about Monet: “Monet is only an eye, but what an eye!” Monet is undeniably the most illustrious representative of Impressionism. Returning to our protagonist, I can assert that Andrew' portrayals of nature's beauty have also brought immense joy to viewers and friends alike.
Figurative Lifescapes and Cityscapes
Subsequently, his stunning figurative pieces gained significant acclaim. He sequentially painted cheerful depictions of natural and poetic harmonies, along with stirring avant-garde dramas. This emotional and intellectual "submersion" truly yielded substantial artistic outcomes for Andrew. He embodies our era's intensive research-driven, expression-centered mindset. The fusion of realistic and imagined scenes symbolizes the dualistic modern style. The freshness and spontaneity of his depictions of models and cityscapes make Manaylo's paintings unique. These pieces don’t merely imitate buildings and landmarks, but rather seek to unveil the city's "secrets", reflecting a confluence of emotions and impulses incited by the spectacle.
Having known the paintings of this period, this shift is a pivotal juncture in his artistic path. Do we label it as a peak, an experimental phase, or an era? I’m uncertain… But assuredly, it’s a significant turning point. The Genesis era, intertwined with the historical legacy of universal “spirits”, signals the formation of his complete worldview. It's a vision that reconciles the journey taken thus far with the path ahead, charting an upward trajectory that captures the trinity of matter, spirit, and soul. His affinity for abstraction asserts that he is both a modern and classical painter. Without a shadow of a doubt, we are in the presence of an exceptional creator. Though a detailed analysis would necessitate a dedicated monograph, in a concise career overview, we can merely offer reflections.
We mustn’t overlook his presence in public life, which deeply influences his artistic evolution. Can one be a public figure and an autonomous artist simultaneously? Andrew Manaylo, a Transcarpathian-born painter whose work spans expressionism and other stylistic metamorphoses, stands as proof of its possibility. He believes that amidst a profound moral societal crisis, voices of artists, writers, and philosophers can redirect attention towards the prospect of a virtuous life. He interprets his tasks in this light. He is keenly aware that as an artist, he must continually engage in dialogue with the audience. However, he wishes to avoid catering unconditionally to the audience's tastes. Through emphases, colors, and framing inner messages, his art communicates, drawing deeply from the profundity of life and nature at a high caliber. He hails from a dynastic lineage of painters. Much like his grandfather and father, he actively participates in Ruthenian public life, holding numerous positions and organizing myriad artistic events, publications, camps, local and national exhibitions, and the list goes on.
His foray into publishing seemed almost predestined. The historical and artistic contents of the Ruthenian-Hungarian journals, for which he was first the artistic editor and then the chief editor, deeply moved him. He professionally photographed sculptures, artworks, events, and celebrations, yet felt that this work was still incomplete. He was profoundly influenced by the spirit of the contents and felt the need to share the silenced past, the true history, and the experiences with others.
He produced several albums showcasing various artistic oeuvres. Other publications followed. A common theme amongst them was a deep-rooted motivation to gather, document, and make accessible the works of his homeland's artists. These works, sometimes writings, occasionally delve into themes of desolation and sorrow, but a shared trait always remains: hope and unity. His goal was to convey values and thoughts, maintaining a set standard and direction.
Metamorphoses on Canvas: Andrew Manaylo’s Artistic Journey
Most of Andrew Manaylo's artistic work now predominantly consists of paintings prepared for renewal. Various stylistic metamorphoses are evident in his pieces, irrespective of their theme. Andrew has been drawing and creating continuously since his childhood. Regular reading, language proficiency, diverse knowledge of art history, and awareness play significant roles in the life of this young artist who began drawing. He often accompanied his painter father on trips through the Carpathian mountains, observing his work. The sights and inner voice deeply touched him. His passion and commitment to art have been so unwavering that he knew without a doubt that this was his path. The decision to paint resonated with him from an early age.
He first studied at the Uzhgorod School of Fine Arts, followed by the Lviv Art Academy and the Printing University. Later, he further honed his skills at the St. Petersburg Art Academy, which had a profound impact on his artistic development. In St. Petersburg, his mentor was Nikolai Blokhin, a true master and developer of academic painting and drawing.
Following the expressive techniques of his master, works from Andrew's "Ballerina-period" in St. Petersburg emerged. They are strikingly beautiful, deeply thoughtful, intertwined with the creator's sensitive lyricism. The entire world of ballet, in conjunction with the theater, is a grand revelation, a continuous manifestation, a celebration – the theater as a secular temple. His creations brim with energy, emotions, and a longing to express the intangible reality. He paints his models as though they exude a certain "transcendence", reflecting the mystery of femininity.
His figurative paintings, such as his equestrian pieces, are incredibly powerful: vibrant in color, with clear forms that are highly expressive, captivating both laypeople and learned art enthusiasts. His choice of this artistic direction and system demonstrated his unique individuality, finding his personal expressive means.
Among his role models are Fedor and Iván Manaylo, his teacher from St. Petersburg, Nikolaj Blokhin, and the list goes on.
Academic Painting Style
Certainly, it was here that he first perceived, upon observing the myriad of genre and stylistic transitions, that in the 20th century, style was no longer just an external frame. He recognized that the contemporary situation offered vast opportunities for the art of painting. Artists were not constrained in selecting their own style, ranging from traditional painting to various movements.
For a while, it seemed that realism, in academic parlance, might be omitted from the revivals of the 20th and 21st centuries, with the multitude of abstract and conceptual styles, from geometric solutions to expressive force, seemingly "overcoming" all. Yet, this was not the case. The traditional style can also renew itself. It represents tradition in a manner that speaks to and of the present. It's not driven by nostalgic vision but by professional humility and a newly revered quality of knowledge. Today, these aspirations are rekindling, as evidenced by Andrew' creations.
Art is an expressive medium through which the creator conveys his thoughts, feelings, and inner processes, regardless of the style adhered to. If it lacks emotion and message, then it's merely a technical application to canvas.
The educational foundation of the St. Petersburg academy still lies in the neoclassical style, relying on the Greek and Roman ancient cultures with its high standards, the presence of precise drawing and composition, following Western trends. This has underpinned its educational system for over 250 years. The months and years spent there contributed immensely to Andrew' artistic development and worldview.
He confidently saw that within the formal language of Russian and French realists and academicians, there subtly lies the restless truth-seeking of expressionists, following the dictates of their inner selves with their brushes. Their influence is undeniably felt in some of his works. His latest paintings bear the current nuances of artistic evolution.
He crafted a unique painterly language for himself. Gradually, he abandons the immovability of the classical viewpoint and discovers a new method of spatial and figurative representation. From both perspectives, be it figurative or non-figurative – or more precisely, realistic and abstract expressive – each is a magnificent creation. Clearly, within a single snapshot, we cannot speak of a bifurcation, stylistic rupture, or opposing artistic directions. The depicted female figures, with their movements, gestures, and specific situations, are just as real components of the overall picture as the formless light effects hinted at in the background, shrouded in mist.
The involuntary gestures, the dynamic background vistas, and the material processes all suggest that there are acts and laws in the world, both material and spiritual, and in reality, whose consequences are unpredictable. Art employs non-rationalized expressive ability. It conveys emotions, experiences, events, and thoughts. It preserves the warmth of the human soul, influencing us. It's akin to the Universe itself, bringing forth the depth of unity and belonging.
His creations become more dynamic, occasionally even employing his dancer's vigor in the brush strokes. His painterly expressions speak for themselves. He has transformed into an experimental modern painter who wishes to express his experiences in abstract form as well.
He wishes to express this in a worldview that extends human boundaries far beyond the tangible, beyond the limits of his environment, beyond Earth's gravitational pull. This doesn't imply abolishing the traditional worldview, but rather limiting its universal validity. For certain human-centric situations, the classical form remains more apt, but it expands and symbolizes the spiritual plane. In the quest for understanding life, the approach to recognizing cause and effect, he uses multiple approaches.
As we observe with Andrew, the evolution of a passionate creator manifests in the form of metamorphoses. The stylistic metamorphoses validate exciting creations, prompting even the art-loving lay observer to ponder: does art grasp existence before understanding it? A process of recognition? They provide an example of how to depict phenomena incomprehensible to our senses, the world.
In conclusion, I wish to highlight the exceptional color effects of Manaylo Andrew' visual world, his coloristic system, mosaic-like color handling, its enchantment, the masterful application of intimate warm and tragic color scales. Furthermore, the vibrancy of existence, the philosophical and psychological intent behind color handling, its soft poesy, the emphasis on local natural effects aiming at beauty. In color selection, he always precisely matches the situation and thought, making each of his creations unforgettable.
Budapest, October 10, 2023.
(More about Andrew Manaylo’s art: https://www.manaylo-art.com/)