Rebecca Manias’ new show, The Modern Mystic, is on display at the Arts Underground until Oct. 28 (Jackie Hong/Yukon News)

Mystically modern: Whitehorse artist debuts new show exploring mysticism, feminism

‘I’m trying to speak to the feminine, to people who identify with feminine energy’

A series of grinning skulls immediately greets visitors at the entrance to Rebecca Manias’ new show, The Modern Mystic. They are immediately eye-catching, not just because they represent dead people, but because they have been brightly drip-painted in cheerful colours, as if a kindergartener had, in a fit of macabre joy, dumped a pot of paint over the set of severed heads.

“At art school they tell you you have to tone down your colours a lot, to mix them, and I didn’t want to do that here. I wanted a lot of brightness, a lot of really stark raw colour,” she says.

The show, on now in the Edge Gallery at Arts Underground, seeks to explore, “contemporary mysticism and storytelling through a feminist lens,” Manias says.

“I’ve always been drawn to witchcraft,” she says, gesturing behind her at “The Ritual.” This elaborate painting —replete with skeletons, naked human-animal figures and strange shapes with grinning faces, all dancing and cavorting — is decidedly pagan in nature. The ecstatic, sensual action coupled with vibrant, glossy, colours creates a curious juxtaposition which feels simultaneously adult and childish.

“I’m trying to speak to the feminine, to people who identify with feminine energy,” she says.

“I’m looking for equality, in race, in gender, in all things.”

Aside from the occult, the show has also been “heavily influenced” by the work of the 15th-century painter Hieronymus Bosch, she says. Anyone who has ever seen one of Bosch’s most famous works, “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” will note a parallel in both style and subject matter in Manias’s work — “The Ritual” and “The Skeleton King,” which have an almost medieval, episodic feel that certainly harkens back to Bosch.

Manias’s work also includes a series of abstracts which explore the, “relationship between organic and inorganic subjects,” she says. These pieces focuses on two separate but similar shapes, sketched out in lighter, more natural colours which contrast with harsh lines and vague, unidentifiable forms. Having no immediately recognizable subject, the mind is prone to interpreting them in its own way when viewing them; some look like bacteria, others like machine parts, underwater animals or genitals. These pieces are done in pairs, which Manias refers to as “dyads,” which are intended to contrast and question the line between the inorganic and the organic, Manais says.

“Those started out as studies,” she says, of the dyads. “But I like them on their own, the sort of interaction they have between those objects, these two disparate objects, that’s what those pieces are about.”

In addition to highbrow influences like Bosch and abstract art, Manias says her influences include horror films, particularly those about witches from Japan, Italy and France from the early part of the twentieth century in the 1970s. These movies often portray witches — and women — in a negative light, making them villains or victims, she says. Her work aims to rework this stereotype.

“I’m trying to put a positive spin on these kitschy movies I really love,” she says.

“I love anything with Vincent Price in it, really,” she adds, with a laugh. “I’m convinced Price was a feminist.”

Manias’ show The Modern Mystic runs until Oct. 28.

Contact Lori Fox at lori.fox@yukon-news.com

 

(Jackie Hong/Yukon News)

Just Posted

Whitehorse council considers allowing pot shops in the downtown core

Meanwhile, the Yukon government started accepting applications for private retail on Feb. 20

Team Yukon athletes begin competition at Canada Winter Games

After four days of competition, Yukon athletes have a pair of top 10 finishes — both in biathlon

UPDATED: Longtime Yukon lawyer, Melissa Atkinson, remembered as a dedicated advocate

The trailblazing Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizen died suddenly the morning of Feb. 14.

Shelley Cuthbert packs up camp

Dog rescue owner moves to new location on private land following court order to leave by March 1

Wildfires the largest threat to Whitehorse: Report

The city has released its hazard identification and risk analysis

2019 Yukon Quest ends with finish banquet in Fairbanks, Alaska

“It’s a very strange up and down in this race. An extremely emotional cocktail to go with this race.”

German rookie wins 2019 Yukon Quest red lantern

Hendrik Stachnau was the last musher to cross the finish line

Hospital workers are prepared to strike

‘They’ve had enough’

Whitehorse mayor calls tax and fee increases reasonable

Council approved the 2019 operations budget

Team Yukon attends pep rally before heading off to Canada Winter Games

The Games are taking place in Red Deer, Alta., from Feb. 15 to March 3.

This year’s Sima Cup medals were delicious

A local bakery provided the prizes

Mushers of all sizes come out for the Babe Southwick Memorial Sled Dog Races

As the leading Yukon Quest mushers were nearing the finish of their… Continue reading

History Hunter: Mining on Dublin Gulch has a long history

A new gold mine is being developed north of Mayo that will… Continue reading

Most Read