Crisp fashion photography is adorned with clusters of repurposed symbols taken from popular culture in the mixed-media artworks of British artist Prefab77, a.k.a., Peter Manning. His new show at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery entitled Gangs, Tribes & Fraternities, is comprised of a variety of works on canvas, paper, wood, and metal. The crux of the show, hinted at in its title, is about our tendency as human beings to want to band together. The artist explains, "Mankind has an innate desire to tribe, to belong, build do it yourself fraternities that cause havoc among rivals historically, now and always."
Through a combination of digital and analog techniques, Manning's multilayered compositions pair street art stylings with formalist portraiture. He starts his process by photographing his subjects, primarily women, and reproducing the images through screen printing. From there he tacks on multiple layers acrylic paint, spray paint, ink, and wheat paste.
Manning got his start as a printmaker and designer in the British Army. When he left the service, he continued to work in design commissioning work for high-end fashion brands and organizing shows for local street artists at the Electric Sheep Gallery in Newcastle. Manning's affinity for multilayered compositions derives from the time he spent living in New York City. The artist writes, "This period of my life is central to my imagery. Living on Elizabeth Street in Nolita in the transitional 90s, between rough and ready door dwellers to armed guarded jewelry stores, I fell in love with the layers of tags and posters that, over the years, created a neglected, urgent, idiosyncratic and incidental beauty."