Since receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and after a ten year hiatus, Peter Manion has been pushing the creative envelope in the St. Louis contemporary art world.
Manion’s works on paper hint of places from a background in drawing, and his emphatic strokes and subject matter offset a playful use of material, style, and sense of humor. His use of color and frenetic forms complement a bold use of abstract mark-making.
Manion’s work is diverse and moving. His use of non-traditional methods, materials, and practices gives his work an animative quality, lending variance and movement to what once was undisturbed brings the work closer to the idea of a living object. His sculptures represent transformation and decay, and challenge the ideas of art as only static beauty, while also exploring ideas of preciousness.
Before starting his residencies at La Fragua, Belalcazar, Spain and the Vermont Studio Center, Peter was working within a self-created box with specific boundaries of what his art could be and what it could do for him and the world as a whole. Peter felt that there was more he could be doing artistically, but it was just out of grasp.
Feeling undefined as an artist and needing a “flip of the switch” creatively, Peter knew getting away from the comfort of familiar surroundings and supportive friends and family was essential. These residencies proved to be an isolating time, leading to an emotional breakdown which allowed him to reemerge with a new artistic aim and purpose. Though Spain and Vermont are very different geographically and culturally, Peters experiences in these places were very similar in what they provided －La Fragua opened his eyes to a new perspective in his work, while Vermont gave him validation in this new direction. It was in La Fragua that Peter started to experiment with his sculptures, leading to a major breakthrough and better understanding of his 2D work. These sculptures allowed him to reexamine his practice as a whole, creating a new pace and vocabulary from which to work.
These works on paper are, in a way, a spirited approach to cataloguing this artist journey; the realization of creative freedom – freedom from a system he had placed upon himself years before. Peter found his artistic voice, and now is the time to shout it out from this place he was born, St. Louis, Missouri.