Ghent / Belgium
Born in 1977
Jorge Manilla, the son of a family of Mexican goldsmiths and engravers, studied visual arts at the Academy of San Carlos, in Mexico. He received a highly technical jewellery training at the Academy of Craft and Design from the Mexican Institute of Fine Arts. But it was until he moved to Belgium, years later, where he enrolled at the Karel de Grote Academy in Antwerp, that he was forced to forget about the traditional notion he had to jewellery, to let his technical skills aside and to research about the cultural meaning of jewellery, its conceptual possibilities and to experiment with materials and techniques .
Manilla’s vast production, is both utterly beautiful and profoundly upsetting. Attraction, repulsion, uneasiness: his work confronts him with his religious upbringing and the viewer with a powerful and intimate perception of the syncretic religion of the modern Mexico. Allusions to religious images and iconography that show the often tortuous and painful relations that Mexicans have with their faith. Wood, bones, textile, branded leather and silver are amalgamated and transformed into almost recognizable shapes: a probable anatomical part, a series of tiny bundles that could be small babies, an unknown religious utensil. Manilla is not shy to experiment with all kinds of materials and processes, never leaving aside his extraordinary metalsmithing skills. Each one of his pieces is carefully crafted in a variety of processes that are able to convey his rotund ideas.
“He understood that modelling the incoherent and vertiginous matter of which dreams are composed was the most difficult task that a man could undertake, even though he should penetrate all the enigmas of a superior and inferior order (…)”
Jorge Luis Borges, The Circular Ruins.
…The creations express a different and deeper reality in another language. Primarily derived from the Mexican culture, the specific symbolism creates a language of images that hand a different form of perception to the Western spectator… .
… The jewel-objects of the Mexican designer Jorge Manilla seek possible answers to questions that reach to the searching man throughout his life claims. Moreover, it seems, at first glance, these creations are created directly in the dream world of an artist-shaman. Dream forged from dust, they appear as plastic constellations of symbols and metaphors, a personal microcosm far from the ‘knowable’ reality. Dream images that condense to a mythical or spiritual dimension revealing to those who learn to decipher the symbolism. The creations speak of a ‘different’ and ‘deeper’ reality in a different language. Mainly from the Mexican culture, it creates a visual language specific symbols field, the Western viewer a different form of perception empowering …
… The syncretism of Indian and Catholic religion has a translation into symbolic objects carry loaded, pregnant with meanings.