Dog Days by Kylie Manning

Kylie Manning, Dog Days, 2021, oil on linen, 60" × 84" (152.4 cm × 213.4 cm) © Kylie Manning

Kylie Manning

Portrait of Kylie Manning

© Meghan Marin

Kylie Manning is a painter based in Brooklyn, New York. Both art teachers, Manning's parents often moved their home in Juneau, Alaska, to various regions in Mexico for extended periods. Manning's work is heavily informed by the atmospheres, latitudes, and colors present in the various geographies of her childhood, where she witnessed the impacts of social, political, and economic change.

Using brushwork, light, and balance, the artist captures moments within her personal history, such as her time working on Alaskan fishing boats and memories of surfing in Mexico. Her works primarily originate from within themselves, but she also sources imagery from old family photographs. Her oil paint compositions center on ethereal, gestural, and genderless figures within expansive, disparate landscapes. While some appear more clearly, other figures are defined by lyrical swathes of paint suggesting a face and the outline of a body. Manning purposefully leaves the origin, gender, and raison d'être of the forms within her paintings up to interpretation, allowing the viewer to step into her world, yet form their own reading of the work. The resulting powerful works vibrate with energy and light, flickering before the viewer's eyes.

Manning explores the balance between figuration and abstraction through expert draftsmanship, painting, mark-making, and a refined technical process. Within her painting practice, the artist begins each body of work as a family, stretching the surfaces and employing rabbit skin glue, which primes the canvas and provides a buoyant backdrop. She spends a great deal of time spreading oil ground (a material used to prime oil paintings) with a palette knife, before sanding down each layer, building a relationship to each individual piece before she brings in color. She is acutely aware of the scale, energy, and groove of the linen before ‘beginning.’ There are no sketches or predetermined compositions; she finds the image with and in front of the viewer so they may determine how the piece was formed.

When Manning eventually incorporates color, it begins through a hierarchy of refracted light. She grinds pure pigments with safflower oil and starts with a Sumi-e-like wash using broad chip brushes and paint rollers to create thin but wide strokes along. While still wet, she takes a rag and begins to pull the composition out by wiping and ripping away saturated areas. Eventually sketching in paint with loaded brushes, she reiterates or shifts the composition. Each layer is separated with a slightly thicker layer of safflower and walnut oil to refract light, a technique common with Dutch Baroque painters, such as Johannes Vermeer. Orchestrating ethereal sketches of landscapes and figures, she balances delicate whirlwinds of color with a contemporary feminist sense of humor. Manning’s works feel simultaneously thin and radiant, light glowing from within the paintings themselves.

Of Manning, the artist Gaby Collins-Fernandez says: “For Manning, paint is a medium of inconsistency. If a line can be used to describe the parameter of a body which would not exist otherwise, it can also break the continuity of a painted picture. A line can misbehave, it can unstick itself from its place in proper perspective; can contour the wrong parts of the story; remind us that images are not a given in art. If eyes can gaze back at a viewer, so can stains. If brushwork can evoke water, grasses, and mists, it can also do a dance led less by grace than excitement, unsettling a painting laterally, in ripples. If gesture is a language, so are expressions and emoticons.”

Through her practice, Manning re-contextualizes the concept of traditionally gendered “masterpieces" with an eye toward contemporary feminism. Her visual lexicon is as much in conversation with J.M.W. Turner and Frans Hals as it is Ruth Asawa and Berthe Morisot. The Art Historian Theodore Barrow notes that, “Manning’s work engages with the sublime in both senses: drawing from an epic tradition of seascapes of [Claude-Joseph] Vernet, Turner, [Gustave] Courbet, and [Winslow] Homer, in which immersive, fluid brushstrokes stoke aural networks, so that one feels them viscerally as much as optically. But ‘sublime’ also means to vaporize, to sublimate, and the abstract quality of her work, held in tightrope suspension above the figurative, beckons a non-verbal connection, a sensate bond that speaks to the body, not the mind.”

Manning is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts with a double Major in Philosophy and Visual Arts. While earning a master's degree from the New York Academy of Art, Manning was sent to Leipzig, Germany to exhibit and work alongside the New Leipzig School where she had a studio down the hall from the artists such Christiane Baumgartner and Neo Rauch. In Germany, she was exposed to this school's version of Surrealism, whose tenets she now experiments with in her practice.

Manning has been practicing and exhibiting her work for over fifteen years. Recent solo exhibitions of her work include Kylie Manning: Aftermath, Sabines Museum of Contemporary Art, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico (2015); Kylie Manning: Waldeinsamkeit, KN Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2017); and Kylie Manning: Zweisamkeit - Being in Two Is No More Than Doubled Solitude, Anonymous Gallery, New York (2021). Her work is held in numerous collections worldwide including the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Florida; X Museum, Beijing, China; and Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China.

The Moon Races Along With Them by Kylie Manning

Kylie Manning, The Moon Races Along With Them, 2023, oil on linen, 48" × 60" (121.9 cm × 152.4 cm) © Kylie Manning

Archipelago by Kylie Manning

Kylie Manning, Archipelago, 2023, oil on linen, 64" × 80" (162.6 cm × 203.2 cm) © Kylie Manning

Clove hitch by Kylie Manning

Kylie Manning, Clove hitch, 2021, oil on linen, 64" × 86" (162.6 cm × 218.4 cm) © Kylie Manning

Doldrums by Kylie Manning

Kylie Manning, Doldrums, 2021, oil on linen, 68" × 96" (172.7 cm × 243.8 cm) © Kylie Manning


Kylie Manning, So glad you came, 2021, oil on linen, 30" × 40" (76.2 cm × 101.6 cm) © Kylie Manning


Kylie Manning, Hold on Tight, 2021, oil on linen, 60" × 72" (152.4 cm × 182.9 cm) © Kylie Manning


Kylie Manning, Squall, 2021, oil on linen, 72" × 72" (182.9 cm × 182.9 cm) © Kylie Manning


Kylie Manning, Weathervane, 2021, oil on linen, 60" × 84" (152.4 cm × 213.4 cm) © Kylie Manning