I started following Manzel Bowman on IG after seeing just one image. When I see something which shreds through my brain, stops time and leaves me gaping in wonder and strange familiarity, there’s no dying it’s connection to something inside me which I never realized someone outside of me was examining with such fearlessness. It’s almost jarring.
I knew the moment I saw the piece above by him the first time that he was locked into something deeply primal, subconscious, ancient and futuristic all at once. And I knew he was Black. His collages beg for exploration and time. It’s weird to see something like that on IG where we kind of glance for half a second, double tap and forget. Manzel’s work just made me stop scrolling and delve. What is happening in these worlds? What is this feeling? I want to know where it comes from.
It was like looking at Earth Wind and Fire Covers in my dads record collection when I was a girl. But this is not Earth Wind and Fire. This is something else. How he balances the busy elements of night, day, water, cosmos, African and Khemetic symbols and deities and effects a kind of explosive stillness I can only liken to being high, I can’t seem to figure. But each one draws me immediately into an unexpectedly meditative state. I recognize it, not only because of it’s clearly overt representations of Blackness, femininity, Khemet and African culture, but something else. Something…not of this world.
I got my husband to buy me one of his prints for me for our second year anniversary last week. It’s nothing like this image above though. Equally as abstract and surreal but comparatively more tame, it packs a punch with fewer elements. I do want to get one of these more elaborate and grand pieces at some point though. There is a powerful event happening in Manzels art that is beyond what I have seen in modern collage in a long time. I think it deserves to be celebrated.