Arts & Life Editor
Fittingly, it was Pablo Picasso, arguably one of the best painters of all time, who once said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” At the artist talk on Tuesday, Sept. 6, Christian Manss explained how he did just that.
Manss, a painter born in Eisenbach, Germany, received a very traditional arts education when he was in school and was trained on all the “proper” techniques of painting. Though Manss mastered these old-fashioned skills, he said that they were not enough, that after a while, he became bored. That is when he began experimenting.
Today, Manss paintings come from a process which he has developed over the course of several years by “cutting, underpainting, overpainting” on photographs. The photos, covered with paint and then rubbed free were, as Manss repeatedly stated, “liberated.”
Though the process perhaps sounds paradoxical, as the photos were first covered up with paint in order to achieve “liberation,” the finished paintings truly looked as if the photo, still concealed in some areas by drippings of paint, was escaping from beneath the paint.
“That was such a human experience,” Al Dilorenzo ’19 said. “We’re so oppressed in our rules that we create for ourselves and that liberating yourself in a scenario to experiment is so essential to growing as a human being and pushing yourself to really achieve your potential.”
Manss explains that realistic paintings do not have this same liberating effect because the goal is not to mimic reality.
“I don’t want to just show a reality,” Manss said. “It’s an image I made for myself…it’s not the truth…You have control of which situation, which light, which image.”
This theme of control in the hands of the artist came up repeatedly in the talk, and Manss assured aspiring artists that “everyone has to learn their own techniques” and that “it’s all about expression and how you find a way to do it.”
Dilorenzo identified specifically to this saying, “I think that it’s really motivating for me to be like, ‘Okay, maybe what I want to do is just what I want to do and it doesn’t really matter what anyone else wants me to do.’ I’m just going to go my own direction and try some new stuff out.”
This inspiration affected many others. Ash Egloff ’18 agreed with Manss thoughts on learning the basics of art first.
“I also liked when he was talking about people should learn all the foundations of art so then they can move on and try some more avant-garde stuff,” Egloff said.
Although the talk, with Manss’ German heritage and artistic skill, drew specifically German language students and aspiring artists, the presentation certainly offered a lot about other aspects of education, or “how to be an adult” as Dilorenzo stated. Manss, with his fierce commitment to self-expression, proved that, although rules have a purpose, the best way to go about expressing oneself is to forgo the rules and do it for yourself and no one else.
Christian Manss, an artist from Germany, has featured many of his paintings in galleries around the world.
Photo Courtesy of Noor Qadri