Gian Manik You own the school, embrace your responsibility for its legacy

Gertrude Glasshouse, Melbourne
12 April –
11 May 2024
You own the school, embrace your responsibility for its legacy
Gian Manik

You own the school, embrace your responsibility for its legacy

, 2024
Gertrude Glasshouse
Photography: Christian Capurro

Harnessing imitative techniques honed during a childhood spent voraciously copying old master paintings, Gian Manik’s Untitled (2024) recasts and filtrates Caravaggio’s second version of Supper at Emmaus (1606). By speculating upon the futures and legacies of reproduced artworks, You own the school, embrace your responsibility for its legacy refutes an authenticity/kitsch binarisation, reworking the bifurcation of artisan and forger.

The fixtured suspension of Untitled presents a work unembellished, wholly integrated yet laid bare in the transparency of Gertrude Glasshouse. Rejecting two- dimensional flatness for poly-directional circumnavigation, this exposition strips the painting of an aura and disrupts the church-like quality assigned to many exhibition spaces. The mode of display intimates an experiential, immersive gesamtkunstwerk, insisting on renewed vantages of both recto and verso, while offering sustained impressions of the inextricable relationship between materiality and subject matter. From the stretching and joinery through to a palpable, glossy surface, the physical properties of Untitled are constitutive components that comprise the work’s conceptual logic. In this regard, Manik’s work is as much a sculpture of a painting as it is a skilled reproduction; a re-presentation that offers painting itself as the subject.

Manik draws upon Caravaggio’s second iteration of Supper at Emmaus as fertile ground to evince an unbalanced connection between author and subject. Produced while Caravaggio was in exile south of Rome, this painting is often said to be a commissioned copy—rendered entirely from memory—painted five years after completing the original 1601 version (housed at the National Gallery, London).

Manik’s transference highlights the procedural elements of reiteration. Given the innkeeper’s wife in the right corner in the second version of Supper at Emmaus was a likely afterthought—a later addition included to placate compositional concerns— Manik elucidates a latent history of image revision, attending to the visual information lost and gained through reproduction.

Manik’s research-led practice responds to the ontology of “institutional painting,” that has been canonised in western art history. Adopting an insouciant approach to both style
and subject, the artist blurs the lines between mimesis and representation through the depiction of imagery gleaned from disparate sources such as the internet, popular culture, and personal memories. This characteristically irreverent methodology borrows from a wide compendium of images, thereby separating aesthetic considerations from hierarchical distinctions of high and low.

Selected solo exhibitions

You own the school, embrace your responsibility for its legacy, Gertrude Glasshouse, Melbourne, 2024; Don Quixote, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2023; Ralph McLean, Richmond Town Hall, Melbourne, 2023; Field works, Spring1883, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2022; Marouflage, Bus Projects, Melbourne 2021; Authentic Memories Generate Real Human Responses, Sutton Gallery Online, Melbourne 2019; Paintings, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2018; National Trust, Courthouse Gallery, Port Headland, 2018; Internal Audit, The Honeymoon Suite, Melbourne, 2018; Hi- Vis and Balcony and Sheepskin and Pilbara, Artereal, Sydney, 2017 and What is your name, It’s a Symbol, Don’t Talk, FORM, Perth, 2017.

Selected group exhibitions

Bayside Painting Prize, Bayside Gallery, Melbourne, 2024; Gertrude Studios 2023, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, 2023; The Ramsay Art Prize 2023, Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA), Melbourne, 2023; Like a Wheel That Turns: The 2022 Macfarlane Commissions, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2022; Between the two, Caves, Melbourne, 2020; 5th/6th final Melbourne Artist Facilitated Biennale, Hero Building, Melbourne, 2019; The drawing is just not there, Westspace, Melbourne, 2018; Rough, Raw and Magic in Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2017; All or Nothing, D&K Fashion launch, RMIT Design Hub, Melbourne, 2017; Portrait Project, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 2017; and Painting, More Painting, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2016.

Artist’s profile