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Consider the loose circular structures that organize Mann’s new series Oculus. The circle, an image of history, decrees the natural dynamism and circularity of living life. Mann infuses this form of life with bright reds, blues and yellows equally suggestive of the eyes implied by the title, the sun and the constellation of the planets, as well as abstract thought processes. Yet and still, these are vehemently proud abstract paintings in the realm of Rothko, De Kooning, and Marden. Mann’s work holds its own in this company with his unique brand of drawing with color to convey voluminous light and deployment of forms that provoke a multitude of valid associations. The repetition of circles in Mann’s process and the material engagement with paint applied to canvas has become a poetic language occupying the energy of life made visible. His paintings are the structural signs of energy, and in that mode, they work as gorgeous signs of drama played out by color and shape evocative of art’s vast and revelatory power for the possibility of transcendental experience. As Mark Rothko once said, “I do not believe that there was ever a question of being abstract or representational. It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing and stretching one’s arms again.” Mann’s paintings do just that.
Curator of Contemporary Art
Los Angeles County Museum of Art