On Edge

Text. Dr. Phil. Lily Fürstenow-Khositashvili


Truth is stranger than fiction. Very much like the pandemic reality faced by us today. With this in mind the fantasy creatures – a recent cycle by Thomas Manelli Mann might appear surreal leaving one constantly questioning the real. The insect- and bird-like biomorphic figures from the cycle render utter suffering. Smears of red pigment against the white background suggest blood stains spilled over. Halfabstract dissolving animal forms call for empathy. The creatures project the artist’s inner self simultaneously serving as an allegory of reality transformed by epidemics, economic instability, uncertain future. Surreal fantasy creatures mark a withdrawal from the reality.

They represent the unrepresentable: fear, dread, calamities beyond human comprehension. Chaotic, huddled lines forming bizarre, distorted body parts stand for anxiety. They point out to discrepancies between external natural environments, alienations between humans and ecosystems. The fantasy creatures frozen in abrupt motion look butchered, severely violated. They convey pain and agony that mankind inflicts on natural surroundings, causing animals to suffer. The images of bizarre estranged creatures ripped out of their natural surroundings communicate isolation – mute witnesses of savage cruelty – all enhanced by the color palette of black, red, occasionally blue and yellow tones.  Reminiscent of surrealist animal motives of Max Ernst these creatures register a dramatic disbalance, a condition of being on edge, driven to the limit – a dispersal of form within a hostile world.