Black Stump Gallery

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Black Stump Gallery

Erin McManis’ paintings reflect on vast landscape, open sky, the drama of weather, and our place in immense surroundings. In her open, nearly abstract compositions there is still a presence of character, relationship, and detail; from powerful pending storms to subtly shifting light dynamics, her landscapes play on the sensibilities of the individual observing them. She is deeply affected by the range and scale of natural phenomena in her adopted home in rural Australia, and invites the viewer to experience the same.

With regards to her medium, oil and cold wax allow for a building of density that befits the immense cloud and smoke formations originally inspiring the work. These media encourage a gestural approach with the brush or knife, breaking cleanly from either in decisive lines and impasto peaks. The translucency that the wax maintains allows for a layered interplay of lights and darks that faithfully evoke her subject. McManis’ handling balances spontaneous openness with defined edges, much like the towers of colliding air masses or columned clouds she depicts. She applies her materials with intention, rightly for their bulk and robust resolution on the panel, and their malleability to reduction and scraping. Meanwhile, she allows room for the thickened oil’s inherent tendencies to bleed and intersect.

McManis’ intimate responsiveness to the emerging of each piece carries directly from her experience in the landscape. There is vulnerability, loneliness and dislocation in relocating from the mountainous grandeur of her native Canadian homeland to the flat, desolate expanses of rural Western Australia. McManis exposes herself to the core of this experience with a view to transforming it. Inviting her new landscapes to impose their eeriness, quiet, and looming movement, she brings to the studio the impact of her responses. Titles such as Resurrection, Insurgence, and Acquiesce reflect a journey to realize her own spirit’s nature within the landscapes’. There is resonance in such work, and an encouragement to the viewer: to see the familiar anew, and to arrive more fully where we are.