Darren McManus


1/29/16 – 3/4/16


Opening reception:

Friday, February 5th, 2016.



Art Gallery Building C


One College Hill Road

Newton, NJ 07860

'Transitions' by Darren McManus

The focus of my work is the creation of a personal cosmology developed through imagery sourced from sacred, scientific, biological and cultural systems. My practice utilizes various forms of technology with scientific and mathematical systems serving as compositional frameworks to explore aspects of spirituality, mysticism and metaphysics.


Rooted in a micro versus macro framework, this growing cosmology consists of small bodies of work stemming from one or two points of interest that ultimately feed and inform the collective whole. In this context, new relationships and meaning emerge yet the execution of the work often remains a mystery due to the aesthetic achieved. Although devoid of actual texture, the paintings possess holographic effects when viewed through micro-optic 3D glasses. Depending upon the viewing angle and proximity to the work, sections of each painting appear to project and recede from the conventional flat picture plane. This phenomenon, not attainable with the naked eye, prompts the viewer to question notions of reality and illusion and how the construction of meaning and/or belief may be shaped by this distinction.


In my recent work, I’ve been experimenting solely with digital media but the results are still rooted in the same ideology as my paintings. I have been composing complex works stemming from photographs that I’ve taken of the natural world - namely the landscape; sunsets; lakes and rivers; and fire. The photographs are representations of the four classical elements: earth, air, water and fire. For me, the process to create each composition represents a form of digital alchemy resulting in symbolic representations of metaphysical ideas rather than ones based upon literal imagery. As a result, I’ve titled the series: Digital Alchemy: The Classical Elements.


'Addendum' by Darren McManus


The Rose Window paintings investigate the overlapping and suppression of various religious and spiritual belief systems. Each starts with an elaborate under-painting composed of iconography and symbolism from different cultures, divination systems, and occult orders such as: freemasonry; pictograms and petroglyphs from the Mayan, Sumerian and Hopi cultures; the tarot; and alchemical and runic symbols. Once completed, this under-painting is then obscured by the sacred geometry from a rose window of a European cathedral through layers of transparent paint. This construction comments on the abstraction and mystery surrounding religious and spiritual belief systems (both past and present) amidst the dominant paradigm.


The Cycles of Material Matter diptychs and Monad paintings concern systems of growth (creation), destruction (decay) or mutation (disease) and the abundance of similarities and disparities that exist in both the natural and synthetic worlds. These hybrid environments evoke themes of alienation, contradiction and wonder. Toxic colors permeate the landscape, geometric structures represent spiritual icons, and biomorphic masses spread as if on an unknown agenda. Due to their irregular shape, each painting appears to be a smaller portion of something vastly larger than itself.


The Cosmosis installation is a hybrid work created from paintings from the Spiritus: Inhale / Exhale series and Cosmosis series. The Spiritus paintings investigate the ancient use of the word “spirit” as the emanation of forces from the soul – a life force or breath. As such, the circulation of the spiritus throughout the parts and members of the soul is analogous to the circulation of the blood through the veins and arteries of the physical body. These small, ornate mandalas are a symbolic reminder that every cycle of inhaling and exhaling is an exercise of the physical and spiritual body while possessing the possibility for transformation. The paintings in the Cosmosis series are a direct result of my investigation into the imagery and pattern making of the Maori people and Aboriginal Australians merged with the ideas and scientific processes of both mitosis and meiosis. An experiment in aesthetic mutation, these small, petri-dish sized paintings are a further exploration of combining elements from a specific microcosm with those of a seemingly unrelated macrocosm.

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Text by Kulvinder Kaur Dhew

Sussex County Community College Gallery is delighted to announce an exhibition of works by

Darren McManus. He is a painter and full-time professor living and working in Lambertville, New Jersey. He received his B.F.A from the University of Hartford / Hartford Art School completing a double major in graphic design and experimental studio and spent his junior year studying at the Glasgow School of Art in Glasgow, Scotland. McManus received his M.F.A. in painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art.


For his visionary, often unconventionally shaped acrylic paintings, McManus has been awarded numerous grants and awards including: a perfect score from the jurors and the highest Individual Artist Fellowship Grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts;  an Individual Artist Grant from the Puffin Foundation; a Fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fel­lowship in conjunction with The Millay Colony for the Arts; and most recently, a Full-time Faculty Research Grant from Raritan Valley Community College to develop a new body of work.


Additionally, McManus has been selected for numerous residency fellowships including: Nes Artist Residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland; The Solo(s) Project House in Newark, NJ; Salzburg Kunstlerhaus in Salzburg, Austria; Chashama North in Pine Plains, NY; The Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT; The Virginia Center for the Cre­ative Arts in Amherst, VA; The Millay Colony for the Arts in Austerlitz, NY; The Artists’ Enclave at I-Park in East Haddam, CT; and The Cooper Union School of Art - Drawing & Painting Residency Program in New York, NY.


His paintings have been widely exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States and have twice been selected by the Boston based Open Studios Press for inclusions in their prestigious, juried publication New American Paintings.

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