Art & Australia

emerging artists

Nick Mangan

Art & Australia is pleased to introduce Nick Mangan, the second artist to be nominated for the ANZ Private Bank Emerging Artists Program.

In Mangan's distinctive work the byproducts of consumerism are integrated with unique sculptural forms of the artist's own making. Mangan's sculpture shares an affinity with the work of many young contemporary artists - such as Ricky Swallow, James Angus and Tim Silver, for example - in which everyday items are deified in sculptural forms distinguished by aesthetic and technical proficiency. However, rather than re-creating objects of everyday use, Mangan incorporates them into new hybrid sculptural forms.

Elemental exposure, 2003, for example, is an intricate sculptural construction inside the casing of a photocopier. Stripped of its internal apparatus, the photocopier is filled with splintered shards of plastic as if it were the imaginary interior of a glacier. This ruptured, discarded object seems to have been overtaken by natural forces, suggesting the strength of nature over disposable consumer products, and points to the aesthetic and formal possibilities of functional items of everyday use.

The crystalline forms in Elemental exposure reappear in another work by Mangan, In the crux of matter, 2003, which was recently acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. In this work a black motorcycle chassis is overrun by a crystalline growth of fractured plastic. Again, Mangan seems to imply the power of natural forces, the non-functional chassis resembling a piece of detritus one might find in a post-apocalyptic landscape, or a product of the sci-fi imagination.

In addition to his use of manufactured materials such as plastic, Mangan has also worked with wood. An earlier piece, Cultural weeding, 2002, is a sculptural work carved from balsa wood and suspended from the ceiling which simultaneously resembles a tree-like form, a marine plant or a network of nerve endings. A more recent work, Untitled (nest), 2004 - which appears on the back cover of the summer 2004 issue of Art & Australia (vol. 42, no. 4) - extends Mangan's interest in combining mass-produced objects with carved sculptural forms, in this case a metal ladder which is literally fused with a honeycomb-like sculptural form carved from Western Red cedar and Tasmanian oak. Inspired by termite damage to temple architecture which the artist witnessed on a recent trip to Japan, Untitled (nest) skillfully reconciles natural and manufactured materials, giving equal weight to the handmade and the mass-produced.

Nick Mangan was born in 1979 and completed a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. He has had solo exhibitions in Melbourne at Sutton Gallery and Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces and has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including the recent 'Primavera 2004' exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Mangan is represented by Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.

Claire Armstrong
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