Like every good story-teller, Michael Vincent Manalo is incredibly skilled at bringing you into his universe of dreams, nostalgia, and surreal fantasy.
His ability to combine photographs, photo-editing, and digital painting (not to mention a rich palette of textures and colors) results in an ongoing visual narrative that makes getting lost in his art a little too easy. Take a look below, and see what I mean. . .
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Titled The Mortal Boy King II, this first piece is a study in texture and space. Our only anchor to reality is a child, seated at the end of his bed. Perhaps he’s simply sitting in his bare room, with walls painted to look like the sky, but who can tell? Where his head should be, there’s only a streaming cloud.
Michael does everything in his power to allow the viewer to take the place of his subject (a theme you’ll see repeated in all of his work). There’s an ephemeral mist concealing nearly every part of this room, and of course, there’s no hint of the boy’s features behind that cloud. His face could be yours, or mine, or anyone’s.
All we know is that he seems to be facing an open window, or portal, glowing with light. The rest is up to our (or his) imagination.
Next, You Are Not Alone could almost be a sequel to the digital painting above.
Whether the vista seen in this piece is just a perception of reality, or reality itself, I’m not sure. But stepping out and experiencing the world we perceive is always a life-changing choice.
I love the scale seen in You Are Not Alone, the way that both the figure and the landscape are dwarfed by massive walls built on an inhuman scale. It’s easy to sense the energy of the space, the wind, the cry of the gulls, and feel how BIG this world is.
Lastly, in Burning Harbors Michael takes us to a place less free, and a little more dark (but I think with some redemption as well). In it, a girl wreathed in ash and smoke stands silhouetted against a harbor in flames. All is lost. . . except, there, in the distance, a ghost ship rises towards the fire-lit clouds.
As with his other pieces, it’s hard to say where reality begins and ends. Is the girl dreaming? Is she being dreamed, by us? Perhaps the ship isn’t leaving at all, but arriving amidst the wreckage, coming to take her away on a voyage through the sky.
That uncertainty always leaves me always wanting more of Michael’s work, and I’m guessing you’re feeling the same way. If so, I encourage you to visit his website today and explore the rest of his amazing digital pieces. You will not be disappointed!