Indeed, not all his work is easily approachable. His many paintings reveal a true ‘sampling’ mentality in which Mannaers – who is extremely well-read – freely uses philosophical excerpts and quotations and links these to quotes from work by almost all the great twentieth-century artists. However, as far as Mannaers is concerned there is more to his work than just the quotations. In each of his works his ‘art historical’ approach to painting is dowsed, in a very unique manner, in an amalgam of references from his personal life. This gives a many layered effect to his paintings. Nevertheless Werner Mannaers’ paintings are not really hermetic. Through his use of bright colours and frequent references to elements in popular culture, what appears to be difficult is sprinkled with a humour that puts things clearly into perspective. Mannaers’ paintings are ‘hopelessly humoristic’ and effortlessly interweave existential questions with an elegant lightness and in a style of painting that is constantly changing.
The exhibition in the S.M.A.K. focuses on Werner Mannaers’ paintings from the last three years supplemented with a ‘core’ of earlier work. The aim of the exhibition therefore is to present anything but a chronological overview of Mannaers’ vast number of many-layered paintings. Instead, it attempts, through a subjective but carefully selected presentation of work in which the artist himself worked closely together with several curators of the museum to point out various paths, resonance and lines of thought in Mannaers work as a whole. This was done not in a linear or narrative way but more in one that was open and not compelling, to give the spectator insight into the artist’s association- and work process rather than an acquisition of the meaning of each work.
At the end of the exhibition (on 18.01.2009) a book will be published that deals exclusively with Werner Mannaers’ paintings.More about Werner Mannaers