The half-dreamed worlds of JJ Manford


Born in 1983 in Boston, and now living in New York, JJ Manford had his first approach to art in the family sphere: he is the son of architects and a great connoisseur of the key figures of design, a background that is very present in his painting , always figurative, through stylish interiors mid-century populated with canvases, very careful furniture, elements taken from popular culture and significant rugs; spaces, in any case, full of refined references that refer to the eclecticism typical of the contemporary world and environments determined by the mix between kitsch and the avant-garde.

Personal memories coexist in his creations with a very personal attention to textiles and rural landscapes around New York, to psychedelia, the romantic concept of the sublime or nomadic cultures. A selection of his recent compositions can be seen, until next June, at the Marta Cervera Gallery in Madrid, in what is his first individual exhibition in Spain and Europe: it is titled “Jaune Brilliant”, in allusion to that tone, a warm yellow very frequent in these pieces, and in a general sense, to the importance of color in his images.

JJ Manford.  Almodóvar Interior #2 with Enzo Mari, 2024

There are ten scenes in this exhibition, all dedicated to domestic but never banal spaces; They transmit a sophisticated joy through their palette, even a luminosity more Mediterranean than any other geography. None of these spaces is completely real or completely imagined, but we must interpret them as a conjunction of both worlds: Manford is inspired by photographs, films or specific pieces of design that he then represents filtered by his own vision, making the work his own. past of other creators, including architects and filmmakers. The works that Marta Cervera has chosen to show also incorporate a nod to our country and to Hispanics, in the form of the Tàpies house (recently centenary), with a sculpture by Elie Nadelman and a rug by the American artist himself; a library with a Miró canvas, a typically Catalan tile floor and a Mexican vase; a stone porch with a Picasso vase and a pair of toucans; or some rooms that refer to the decoration of the homes in Pedro Almodóvar films, surely, for an American, emblem of Spanish interiors.

In none of these works does the human figure appear, which gives them an air of mystery without subtracting, paradoxically, personality: life in them, in a direct sense, is represented by plants or animals, domesticated natures, which it is possible to appreciate. through railings or windows; In an indirect sense, art itself alludes to it, as an expression of the human spirit. The intimate and iconic aspects of Spanish culture come together in these canvases, which also include famous characters from American pop culture, such as Batman or the Simpsons; In any case, what is fundamental about them is their expressive force, the result of the aforementioned lively use of color, light, the richness of the textures and the constant mixture, which in turn are the product of a delicate balance in their processes. between strategy and spontaneity.

JJ Manford.  Antoni Tàpies Home & Studio with Elie Nadelman & Alfredo Volpi, 2024
JJ Manford.  Sunset with Miro, Cypress Grove, & Miro-Inspired Manford Rug, 2024
JJ Manford.  Suburban Sunset with Bart Simpson, 2023
JJ Manford.  1981 Ford Station Wagon with Batman Bobblehead, 2023

JJ Manford. “Jaune Brilliant”


c/ Valencia, 28


From April 3 to June 8, 2024

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