Eric Manigaud, French born and based in St Etienne, is recognised for his impeccably rendered large scale drawings in pencil and graphite dust. Often reaching 180cm in height or width, every piece represents an obsessive accomplishment of technical expertise and takes two to four months to complete. As the French art critic Philippe Piguet states:
"Everything in his work is of a degree of minutiae taken to an extreme, which propels the model he uses into a kind of meta-reality exceeding the details…He is an accomplished artist gifted with an astonishing virtuosity which competes with a rare expressiveness."
In parallel with such a commanding deployment of technique is a brutal choice of subject matter, where the power of the image combines with its realisation to create an overwhelming and emotive presence. Manigaud searches relentlessly in order to source second hand imagery, where an instinctive discovery will trigger a new series of work. Selecting only historical images that refer unintentionally to the evolution of the modern age, Manigaud reveals empathy for mankind and simultaneously critiques its progress. Bombed cities, murder sites, asylums and the African interior are all theatres where modern man has faltered.
The source material of this work is a photo taken from the State Care and Medical Facility in Weilmünster, in which physically and mentally ill Jewish patients were forcibly sterilised or starved under the Nazis. The image puts to the foreground the human subject as locus of twentieth-century horror.
These close-up images overlay various acts of looking: the artist’s tireless scrutiny of the original image, the subject’s wary or wounded gaze at the blank eye of the camera, and the viewer’s own transfixed curiosity, delayed there through the work’s density of mark-making.
Manigaud graduated from University of Fine Arts, Saint Etienne and has had recent solo shows at Charlie Smith Gallery in London and Galerie Sator in Paris.
This work was exhibited in Anthology at Charlie Smith London, and Paper at the Saatchi Gallery, in November 2013.