“Manuel Miranda: Nearly Human. Nearly Animal”

Septuagenarian artist Manuel Miranda paints wild creatures. Often he doesn’t know what type (human, animal or a mixture of both) until it’s finished. “I use a stream-of-consciousness approach,” he says. “I’m not working with logic and logical thinking. There could be different combinations of human and animal.” That’s obvious in his new exhibit “Manuel Miranda: Nearly Human. Nearly Animal.” Growing up, Miranda wanted to become a poet; painting became a natural extension of his handwriting. “Literature gave me ideas about painting and drawing,” says Miranda, a native of Mexico City. “Writing poems by hand, I learned that I could draw and be creative not only with words, but with line and form and shape.”

For each painting or drawing, Miranda begins with a line and allows his imagination to run free. In the same way poetry is naturally abstract and full of metaphor, Miranda’s paintings invite interpretation from the viewer. One person sees a bull, another sees a person and a third sees E.T., the extraterrestrial creature from the Steven Spielberg film. Certainly the paintings make us think about our own animal natures and even the way animals sometimes mimic human behavior. It all goes hand-in-hoof, according to Miranda. “The main idea of the exhibition is to show how animals have something to do with humans and humans have something to do with animals,” he says. “I like that topic in particular.”

Miranda’s work in recent years is quite striking in contrast with his previous art. Now in his seventies, the artist is making work that feels more vibrant than ever. “Over the years my work has gained more textures, more colors, more form,” he says. “It has grown and expanded aesthetically, but it has remained true to its origins.” Opening reception 6 to 9 p.m. February 3. Regular viewing hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Through February 26. Koelsch Gallery, 703 Yale. For information, call 713-626-0175 or visit www.koelschgallery.com. Free.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Feb. 3. Continues through Feb. 26, 2011


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