October 13, 2013

Art review: Manning and Lynch make abstraction matter

The iconic Maine artists’ work is displayed on separate floors at Icon Contemporary in Brunswick.

By Daniel Kany

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Manning’s “Painting #454,” collage, acrylic on Masonite.

Courtesy photos

“Dark Room,” mixed media by Frederick Lynch.

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: Icon Contemporary Art, 19 Mason St., Brunswick

WHEN: Through Oct. 12

HOURS: 1 to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday; 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday

INFO: 725-8157

But while Lynch bows in respect to the artists whose language he borrows (Picasso, Braque, Mondrian, Tatlin, Malevich, Jasper Johns, etc.), he never drops their names or relies on the viewer getting the reference in order to understand the work.

And this is precisely what makes Lynch’s work modernist rather than post-modern: The success of the work is based on internal structures and content that are put into play by the viewer’s experience rather than by required external knowledge.

Post-modernism has infused so much irony and snide parody into the language of art that we often hesitate to trust our sensibilities and instincts.

But both Lynch’s and Manning’s works are made to be seen in good faith. No ironic references have to be parsed in order to understand it.

And it is fundamentally geared to the viewer’s here-and-now experience. (Lynch’s witty references to gallerist Duane Paluska’s constructions are warmly – even lovingly – inclusive of his dealer, not parodic or ironical.)

The key word here is “faith.” Manning and Lynch cut their artistic teeth at a time when no one doubted painting was important. Audiences assumed integrity from artists who, in turn, assumed integrity on the part of the audience.

Manning and Lynch are extraordinary and accomplished artists whose work hasn’t faded one iota over the years.

Their works stand as tall reminders that our personal experience of intelligent or spiritually compelling art doesn’t have to be lorded over by bombastic pretense or self-aggrandizing theatricality.

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:


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Additional Photos

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Lynch’s “Okie Dokie,” mixed media.

click image to enlarge

Manning’s “Painting #488,” collage, acrylic on Masonite.


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