New Soul is the first solo exhibition of a young musician and artist from Kazan, Sasha Manik. Experimenting with new sound and visuals since 2012, Manik managed to create an aesthetic universe unique for the Russian art landscape. It organically synthesizes Christian symbolism and psychedelic visions, grassroots folk and digital computer graphics, mystical and esoteric phenomena - such as shamanism, folk beliefs and rituals - with the ideas of cutting-edge international post-globalist musical underground.
Collage-thinking is one of the key creative techniques for Manik: with the help of sampling and mixing together different, even opposite styles, the artist and musician seeks a method for producing new emotions which often border on religious and mystical experiences. Belonging to a generation and network of artists who grew up online, his artistic research, while mainly intuitive and partly unconscious, has consistently entered into dialogue with sound experimenters, such as E + E (Elysia Crampton), ssaliva , 5starb01, Chino Amobi, Swan Meat, MESH and Why Be. As representatives of an underground movement of musicians united by a common aesthetic and, according to The Fader's Adam Harper, the creators of a new genre of «epic collage», they create poli-ethnic rhythms of twenty-first century's music: romantic R&B melodies mixed with neurotic base music, traditional songs of the indigenous peoples weaved in noise structures of car engine sounds, Justin Bieber songs and Steven Reich's pieces. Creating an original soundtrack for the experience of living in today's globalized world, they skillfully blend the esoteric with the more commercial rhythms of club music. The paradoxical combination of different layers of culture is also embodied in the biographies of the musicians themselves: one of the main representatives of the movement, as well as a great influence on Manik, is the half Bolivian, half American Elysia Crampton who was raised as an Adventist in the 1990s in Virginia and experiments equally with fluid gender and symbolic imagery inspired by traditional Latin American culture, Neo-Impressionists and biblical art.
The main focus of Manik's collage-thinking is to produce a peculiar temporal mixture of native traditional (paganism and shamanism) and Orthodox Christian culture on the basis of technological innovation. Against these two traditions, the artist builds an original inner philosophy stemming from the concept of "Infinity" - the basis of the Cross", "Root Angel", "Glow", "rare reflections" that are embodied in his automatic and almost unconscious way of writing and drawing. In his visual experiments Manik tries to imagine a world in which progress is based on the reinterpretation of ancestral heritage and the human relationship with nature, which for the artist is the main source of true spiritual experience.
"Nature is the mother and the home, it is a joy and sadness, monumental power and unbearably fragile and vulnerable beauty. Nature is something without which there is no notion of "psychedelia". Nature is an outlet and inspiration for artist, his boundless creative studio. This is a vibrantly fluttering in space, ingeniously designed canvas, the center of the elements, the triumph of life and death, erupting cyclically to the timelessness. Watching it, you know intuitively that everything created by human thought or hands mimics nature involuntarily. Widespread forms of natural grace, subtlety of lines, harmony of sounds is nothing else but an endless performance, ideal creative design. This is poetry, which has got its actual bodily incarnation" — Sasha Manik.
Rejecting logic and rational knowledge of the world in favour of intuition, Manik and his approach to the creation of art shows that the meaning of art is not so much in the development of a new visual language but in finding the ways to create your own, new reality.
The exhibition will feature graphic collages, an assemblage of artist's personal belongings, a film about the philosophy and artistic principles of Sasha Manik and a new video for the single Aerial (New Soul) from the EP «Root Angel», released in November and created specifically for the exhibition at ISSMAG GALLERY. Sasha Manik himself will perform at the opening with a DJ set.
Alexander Burenkov. 2017