Manty Dey

Manty Dey

First, tell me a bit about you! Where are you from originally, and where are you based now?

I was born in Kumarghat, India and moved to Georgia with my family when I was six. I received a BFA in painting and drawing from Georgia State University and an MFA from the University of Georgia in 2014.  I am currently working in Atlanta, GA.

What first interested you in making art?

I have always enjoyed making things with my hands and learning how materials interact. Making paintings is an ideal combination of observation and obsession with what is in front of me.

You make paintings as well as 3-dimensional wall pieces from acrylic. Can you tell me a bit about your process?

During my final year of graduate school, I took a weaving class that fundamentally changed how I looked at the relationship between the image and the surface. When I was weaving on the loom, the linear patterns from the warp and weft looked like a drawing. Once the piece was off the loom and there was no tension, the image collapsed and became vibrations of color from the yarn. This simple idea that the surface can be fluctuating and dimensional led to my current body of work consisting of sculptural paintings, acrylic sheets, and hand cut paper forms. 

My interest in making paintings is centered around the surface of the paint. I make acrylic sheets by pouring paint on glass and control the sequence of the pour to make color compositions. Once they are dry, I peel off the malleable sheets of acrylic. I approach the sheets as fabric and begin to mend them by cutting, folding, and sewing them together. The part that I find most intriguing is that through the manipulation you can see the colors not only on the top but also on the back of the sheets. The paint is a physical material, the color has a glow, and its cast shadows create volume. All of these elements activate the image.

The sculptural paintings are built up in stages and sanded down until the surface is completely smooth.  Lately, I've been interested in extracting repeat patterns and vibrations of color from the compressed surface. Next, I coat the panel with polyacrylic which works as a layer of separation. Then I will apply thin layers of gesso to the surface until it becomes a sheet of paint sitting on top. Finally, I cut away the gesso layer to slowly revealing what is underneath. I enjoy peeling back the strips of acrylic and seeing parts of the painting that was previously preserved. The meticulous cuts transform the painting into an object of adornment. 

There is an satisfaction to cutting that I thoroughly enjoy in my work. Cutting is a slow meditative and repetitive process. It is a deliberate and controlled way of working, and it balances out the earlier stages of the painting where I have less control over the surface. It is also a reward system for me.

What is the significance of vividness of color and reflection in your work?

Color is mysterious, alluring, and fluid. I am interested in manipulating the color and surface of the piece to extend the painting beyond its physical substrate. The dissection of the surface reveals the layers underneath, allowing the fluorescent color to permeate the space. The subtle cast shadows, luminous vibrations, and delicate cuts are moments of invitation and indulgence for the viewer.

Can you describe your studio or workspace?

My studio is my bedroom. I work in a small, cluttered, yet functional workspace. I have a lot of samples and studies tacked all over the walls. I set up “stations” around my house, a separate table for pouring, drying, and cutting paintings. 

What do you consider the most challenging part of pursuing your practice, whether creatively or professionally?

As an emerging artist, it is difficult to balance a studio practice and a full time job that isn't art related. Time management is my biggest hurdle right now. I try to participate in residencies to keep the momentum going and stay invested in the work.  

What is the best advice you've ever received?

The best advice I received during school was the phrase “put it in your back pocket, take it out if you need it."  I can’t remember who said it but it stuck with me.  Another artist told me that making art is a long term relationship. 

What does "success" mean to you?

This is a question that I struggle with on a daily basis and is a topic of conversation among my peers. Right now, “success” means making work, making mistakes, getting rejection letters, and applying to more shows.  I celebrate my small accomplishments and set short term goals. I try to remember that there is no set trajectory for being an artist. It's my race, my lane, and my pace.  

What are you working on right now?

I am revisiting works from several years ago. This time around, I am carving into the surface and thinking more about tangled marks and crystalline structures.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thanks Kate! I love your site. 

Find more at mantydey.com and on Instagram @mantydey!

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Robert Strang

Robert Strang

Together With (Madison, WI)

Together With (Madison, WI)