manuel branco
photographic arts



One can engage with my photography primarily in terms of form and color, but the predominance of abstraction in much of my work came out of my thinking about the paradox of how to represent a specific issue, theme or idea, without physically referencing it or revealing its identity, its specific origin. Many of my images are consciously or unconsciously referenced by the influence of certain artists and sculptors from the New York School, in particular, who enjoyed some predominance in the 60’s and 70’s when I was in Art School. Artists like Cy Twombly, Donald Judd, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenburg, Motherwell, Larry Poons, Brice Marden and John Chamberlain. A list of all my influences would be extensive. One cannot help but be influenced. My life has been an addiction, in a way, to art. Viewing art, as well as creating it, is an intellectual stimulus governed by a passion for new ideas, how I view the world and the mystery of beauty. For me that beauty has been and continues to be profoundly influenced by certain visionary creators who so dramatically changed the landscape and visual dynamics of how we see it. In effect they interrogated beauty. They questioned it’s relevance not by social convention but by discovery. They found new ways of seeing it. Our concept of beauty is always evolving. In a word, ART, is for me, a means of coping with reality, the world and the study of beauty, what it is and how it relates to us in the human experience.

Artists like Francis Bacon, Alberto Giacometti, Cy Twombly, Edward Burtynsky, Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut Newton and Andrea Serrano are perhaps my most profound influences. Great art has always reflected it’s time and place in a unique way. It captures what exists in front of the collective eyes of a culture, ideas that lie dormant until they’re significance is elevated and transformed as a work of art. Images such as Alfred Eisenstaedt’s VJ Day, The Kiss or Andy Warhol’s Campbell's Soup Can. Both capture a moment in history or elevate a sensibility ingrained in the culture to a new level of significance. I think visionaries have always been outsiders. To be a visionary, however, one needs to know not just what the insiders know but more, far more. Only when looking in from the outside does one see so much of the hypocrisy that permeates the fabric of a social order, which can so often paralyze and debilitate the proletariat.

As some have observed, my images lean toward abstraction and the avant. But, I believe abstraction can translate to a form of universal language. I always welcome your comments, feedback and dialog. What interests me is a connection with people through my images. The art world is said to be a meritocracy. When you study it carefully, I think this is largely true, but it's curious how the process works. It’s important to have sponsors but I think great art starts like a seed in the fertile ground of the public domain. If an audience responds to it, embraces it, if it's something people connect with, then it stands a chance to grow and become something greater. Your creations evolve from being mere images to icons of identity.

Art is discovery. I hope you discover something you like. Enjoy your journey.

"Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought."

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Hungarian Biochemist, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine, 1893-1986)

"Beauty is now underfoot wherever we take the trouble to look." - John Cage