Week #3 Finalist: Manju Shandler

Manju Shandler ArtSprinter
Manju Shandler, Democratic Bucephalus (44″ x 44″)

We are glad to announce Manju Shandler (New York) as a finalist of The Art Sprinter Emerging Jewish Artists Awards. Together with nine other contest finalists, she will exhibit her artworks in the New York based gallery on June, 2015. Also, Manju will be interviewed for the contest’s website and featured in the 2015 Art Sprinter Catalog. If you are interested (or know any artists that might be interested) in submitting artworks for The Art Sprinter Awards, please apply at TheArtSprinter.com/Participate. The deadline for week #4 submissions is Sunday, March 22, 2015.

Artist Statement/Bio: I am a visual storyteller who communicates with the viewer through narrative imagery imbued with elastic meaning. I am creating a visual mythology that explores the process of humankind corrupting the natural world in pursuit of progress. My narrative mixed media paintings and tapestries are a meditation on current events presented as a psychological landscape that build upon established storylines in pursuit of ordering madness in dense and complicated times.

My artwork reflects on the past while it probes the future. The blueprint of how I create work can be broken down like this: I isolate a contemporary phenomenon, find a myth or story with relevance and illustrate their intersection using an arsenal of imagery and techniques assembled through research and intuition.

Much of my work is on polyester film, a thin translucent plastic. This material allows the staging environment to be visible through the work, breaking the metaphor of painting as a window into another dimension. I mark this surface with India ink, grease pencil, printing, acrylic and spray paint. I sew this work together creating large multi-layered plastic tapestries.

I am transfixed by how the destruction of natural disasters is compounded by the depth of human infrastructure. THE EXPULSION and A HAIR’S BREADTH are from a series of work created during an artist’s residency at LABA: The Laboratory for New Jewish Culture that examine the concept of PARADISE. Both pieces use pieces The Book of Ezekiel and Genesis for contemporary illumination. A HAIR’S BREADTH was created in June 2010 for exhibition in Tel Aviv at Alma: Home for Hebrew Culture.  This piece highlights a specific moment in time just after the Haitian earthquake when the Gulf Coast oil spill was still raging and the “Peace Flotilla” created nothing but more hatred while acknowledging that the beauty in life continues: people go to the beach and ride bikes, children go to school, and horses graze in green pastures.

Manju Shandler Art Sprinter
Manju Shandler, The Expulsion (90″ x 40″)
Manju Shandler, A Hair's Breadth (144″ x 30″)
Manju Shandler, A Hair’s Breadth (144″ x 30″)

I began the series TSUNAMI just after the Japanese Tsunami and resulting nuclear instability in 2011. I was struck by how the devastation was compounded by human infrastructure and hunger for fuel, the images of water logged cars and crumbling nuclear power stations. Faced with this tragedy and disappointed in the lack of divine intervention, I composed TSUNAMI 1 & 2, juxtaposing imagery from Japanese photojournalism and Rapael’s The Triumph of Galatea. I mined the deeper significance of the cherubic infant putti by rendering babies swimming in the mire, questioning the future.

Manju Shandler Artist NYC
Manju Shandler, Tsunami 1 (42″ x 60″)
Manju Shandler Tsunami
Manju Shandler, Tsunami 2 (42″ x 60″)

LEVIATHANS was the next cycle of work created in this series exploring our evolving world through this allegory of the biblical chaos monster. Moving deeper into the quandaries of worldwide energy demands I became fascinated by whaling, one of the first super fuels, and began equating it with current fossil fuel consumption. Both are finite natural resources that will be depleted. To fully immerse myself in whaling culture I listened to the unabridged audiobook of Moby Dick and studied Dutch etchings of whaling from the 1600 and 1700’s, borrowing their imagery to create printed plastic backgrounds with historical significance.

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Manju Shandler, Leviathans 3 (42″ x 60″)
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Manju Shandler, Whales Cars & Babes (44″ x 34″)
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Manju Shandler, Moby Under (54″ x 40″)

BEHEMOTH is a series of work that probes questions of nationalism and the psychological significance attached to the visual symbolism of flags. BEHEMOTH was a mythical creature described in the Book of Job as a manifestation of the almighty’s power. Here the BEHEMOTH becomes nationalism. By ordering and categorizing national character by types of government I am questioning the visual symbolism of flags and how the constructs of organized government inform contemporary society.

Manju Shandler, Ezekiels's Nap (44" x 44")
Manju Shandler, Ezekiels’s Nap (44″ x 44″)

In these pieces I have used Greek statues, a symbol of democracy, wearing painted flag masks to render the nationalistic symbols meaningless, reminiscent of painted clowns or enthusiastic sports fans. As I delve into the weight of this topic I am faced with how to both honor history and patriotic identity while looking past the BEHEMOTH of nations to the individuals who comprise it.

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Manju Shandler, Medusa’s Conquests (44″ x 44″)

Website: www.ManjuShandler.com