• Gian Manik

Sumer is pleased to present its latest exhibition, MINE, by Naarm-based artist Gian Manik. The exhibition comprises a series of thirteen new paintings (all 2024), twelve of which the artist commenced making during a month-long residency at DESA, Ubud, Bali, and completed on his return to Australia earlier this year. The final work, a text painting of the show’s title, made in collaboration with Daniel du Bern (who also serves as director at the gallery), is shown in the adjacent window space. This is Manik’s his first solo exhibition here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

That the word ‘mine’ has such a variety of meanings in contemporary usage—from possessive pronoun to nouns and verbs (each with multiple meanings relating to excavation or extraction, or subterfuge warfare)—seems entirely apt for Manik’s work. Not only because his work riffs on the various notions which swirl around art and culture: authenticity, ownership, legacy, power and influence, wealth (and poverty); but also, because his painterly output is characteristically diverse and mercurial, and defies simple characterisation.

Known for producing works which vary greatly in material treatment and form, as much as they do subject, Manik’s works range from the classical to contemporary, from the delicate and refined to the vulgar and brutish, from reverent to profane. The works in this exhibition are illustrative of such eclecticism. For while he considers them a single series, to the viewer they read as two distinct and contrasting bodies of work. Indeed, even their installation is demarcated, the two divided evenly across the gallery’s main space on the diagonal axis. On one side of the gallery, a frieze of modestly sized works are hung. Studies, finely rendered in oil on linen, most traditionally varnished, with dominant hues of deep red, yellow, brown and black. These picture hard cropped sections of well-known Orientalist works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And while all are based on works by celebrated European academy painters, here Manik has elected to skew convention, and titling them “after” the works’ original title yet forgoes acknowledgement of their authors.

Across the room hang two expansive and bombastic paintings. Painted with flourish and visible haste, their palette also contrasts: warm blues and greens, turquoise, azure and mauve, with flesh tones lurid, apricot and peach. These works present contemporary subjects, touristic views that link with Bali. Petitenget, painted from a photograph of the stylish Potato Head Beach Club’s infinity pool, which overlooks the Petitenget Beach—sacred to the Balinese people—replete with speakers drilled directly into the palm trees. The other painting, Gurra Rufa, whose colossal size takes up an entire gallery wall, is an image lifted from Google page one. It shows a close up of the controversial spa treatment of that name, which is banned in various parts of the world due to concerns regarding risks to health and animal welfare, yet is a decadence popular among some wealthy Westerners when visiting tourist destinations in developing world such as Ubud. Manik, self-described as “brown and queer”, admits a certain delight in painting an image that depicts the feasting on white flesh (albeit with a certain bathos); hardly The Death of Captain Cook say.

Gian Manik (born 1985, Boorloo Perth) currently lives and works in Naarm Melbourne. He holds a Masters in Fine Art from Monash University, Melbourne, and a Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours) from Curtin University, Perth. Manik was recently an Artist In Residence at DESA, Ubud, Indonesia (2024); Bundanon, New South Wales (2022) and an informal residency with The Australian Ballet (2023). He has also just completed a commission for PICA, Perth’s 2024 Artist Edition. Recent exhibition highlights include MINE, Sumer, Auckland (solo); You own theschool,embrace yourresponsibility forits legacy, Gertrude Glasshouse, Melbourne, 2024 (solo); Don Quixote, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2023 (solo); The Ramsay Art Prize 2023, Art Gallery of South Australia, Melbourne, 2023; Gertrude Studios 2023, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, 2023; Like a Wheel That Turns: The 2022 Macfarlane Commissions, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2022; Marouflage, Bus Projects, Melbourne 2021 (solo); Rough, Raw and Magic in Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2017; Portrait Project, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 2017; What is your name,It’s a Symbol, Don’t Talk, FORM, Perth, 2017; and Painting, More Painting, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2016. His work is included in AGWA, City of Darrebin, ArtBank, and various private collections across Australia, New Zealand and internationally.

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  • 27 Beach Rd, Auckland CBD
  • Tāmaki Makaurau
  • Aotearoa New Zealand