The paintings by Markus Manowski oscillate between concrete storytelling and enigmatic abstraction. At times peopled with ghostly figures, dream-like scenes unfold like stagesets of subconscious imagination. The figures, contorted and unreal as if mirroring an otherworld, seem to emerge from and blend in to the semi-abstract surroundings, generating a constant flow between background and foreground, abstraction and figurativeness, distance and proximity, gesture and control, riddle and solution.
Similar to the visual impact swaying between these poles, the process itself is both intuitive and controlled. As if they were visualised musical compositions, the works draw their tension from dissonance, friction and circulation. They often have a media event as a point of departure, out of which Markus Manowski extracts the essential sentiment it triggers, then intuitively translates it into a deep yet ephemeral kind of painting that is so reminiscent of dreams. These exterior, real-life starting points may not be very apparent in the finished works anymore, but they are keys to unlocking the dense and mysterious narrative of our world.
There is a vibrant dark energy inherent to the works that creates an intense, almost dystopian atmosphere. The storylines run on closed pictorial circuits, yet they stay open in terms of the narrative, like atmospheric projection planes for subjective associations. The large scale of the paintings enhances the immersive, spatial and stageset-like effect of the depicted scenes.
It is as if wandering through shadowy dreamscapes that playfully allude to archetypal metaphors and symbols, revealing vague clues only to withdraw them again and to reveal others instead. A perpetual game in the sphere between absurdity and coherence, in scenes metaphorically charged yet entirely open.
Text by Kristina von Bülow