Artist Spotlight – Manolo Gamboa Naon

Manolo Gamboa Naon is a Creative Coder from Argentina. He creates interactive installations, video games, data visualisation, websites and tools for digital advertising. He describes himself as “obsessed with generativity” and likes programming images in which he works with geometric patterns, textures and overloading.

I found Manolo’s work a few months ago while browsing Behance, and was immediately drawn in to his designs. They spark with colour, shapes and motion, and there is often an incredible sense of depth in his work thanks to his relentless layering techniques.

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For me his work stands out because it seems like every geometric shape has been placed carefully and thoughtfully to reach the overall outcome. It must be a painstaking and time consuming process putting some of these works together, and Manolo does it prolifically—indicating that he simply loves creating these deeply complex compositions.

In his essay Nature of Abstract Art, Meyer Schapiro writes that in stripping away the literal subject and the bias of the artist, we are left with pure aesthetic elements, shapes and colours.

“The new styles accustomed painters to the vision of colors and shapes as disengaged from objects and created an immense confraternity of works of art, cutting across the barriers of time and place.”

This way of thinking meant that all art was suddenly valid, from children’s paintings to the scribbles of people with mental disorders, and all deserved of consideration (Schapiro, 1937). Art is subjective, as are most creative fields, and perhaps more so when it comes to abstract, where shapes and colours exist as their own entities and remain open to interpretation.

To me, Manolo’s work feels almost stream-of-consciousness that produces beautiful complicated works. They are not uniform patterns and there is not often perfect symmetry, but the use of geometric shapes gives off an illusion of order and precision. This is an interesting balance to me: abstraction and order. I love how Manolo achieves this and makes it look effortless.

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A number of his pieces are reminiscent of colourful fantasy cityscapes. One in particular I am drawn back to time and time again is this piece posted in July 2018:

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My interpretation is that I am looking down onto many circular buildings, the faint grey lines and intersections signifying the many pathways and possible directions people can travel, with the larger circular shapes housing their own networks and pathways within. It could also represent a person’s brain, with its innumerable neural pathways and connections, the colours representing the different areas of the brain working for different purposes. Manolo is a creative coder who also makes video games, which is possibly why when I look at this piece I see a landscape full of areas to traverse and explore.

While I enjoy most of Manolo’s pieces, there are one or two that do not work so well for me. For example:

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This piece is far more minimal than his other work and in its own right fine, but when viewed in his gallery sitting next to his other pieces it almost looks like a mistake. While I appreciate the simplicity of many geometric shapes and their different meanings this piece does not speak to me or tell me a story. Within the context of his other pieces I feel this one does not fit. Many of Manolo’s other creations feel like well-rounded stories or places for great exploration. Unfortunately he rarely adds a commentary along with his art so I am not sure what this represents to him or where the idea came from.

References

Schapiro, Meyer (1937): Nature of Abstract Art. Published in Marxist Art Quarterly, from the American Marxist Association.

Visit Manolo’s website | Manolo on Behance

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