Alexis K. Manheim is a California based painter. Born and raised in Los Angeles, She relocated to The San Francisco Bay Area to pursue studies at Stanford University where she graduated with a BA in Studio Art and a BA in International Relations. She credits a laundry list of unusual life experiences as the major contributors to her layered and complicated works. From playing with baby lions in her living room as a child in Los Angeles, to eating raw Buffalo heart on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota as a teenager, selling handmade objects on Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon, herding cattle across the great plains, to the memory of getting covered in ash while watching Mount St. Helens erupt when only 5 years old…  she builds layer upon layer of lines referencing a universe full of the miraculous, the terrifying, and the absurd.  “Looking at an Alexis Manheim painting, you want to jump into the canvas. You want to experience the primitive, dreamlike states she paints with so much verve.” (Jonathan Curiel, SFWEEKLY)

Manheim herself is as layered and complicated as her work. She is multi-ethnic (African American, Native American, Irish, English, Swedish, Scottish, German, Russian) left handed, and green eyed, with a penchant for carnivorous plants, jazz, physics, and creating her own pastels from raw pigments. Her home studio/laboratory looks as if it was written into existence by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and she’s not shy about declaring her love for surrealist painter Remedios Varo, Cy Twombly, and Diebenkorn’s “Ocean Park” paintings which were created minutes from where Manheim grew up.  “A timeline could be drawn from her work through Karel Appel, Wassily Kandinsky, and even cave painters, who share her sense of basic forms and outlines.” (Curiel) San Francisco writer David Farley writes “The intrinsic necessity and sacred revel in her lines and colors harken to an artistic heritage as potently descended from the caves of Lascaux as from the hallowed halls of the Louvre.”

Manheim feels most drawn to creating work that is intentionally ambiguous, at times deceptively sweet or fragile yet aggressive. Artist and writer Chris Rusak wrote of her work “Manheim’s work is especially delicate, her use of pastel – tender pigments hovering against the paper – creates a contrast of materials we rarely see from contemporary San Francisco artists. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing paintings with their flat media permanently affixed, instead we accept this composition is transitory. Without the safety of the frame’s containment, a Santa Ana wind would whisk away the color-in-line… with the same quickness that it spreads fire across the Los Angeles National Forest”.

Her powdery works straddle the line between painting and drawing, a hybrid abstraction stoked with representational elements tucked between bold gestural lines. With distinct, often scientific or technical titles like “1 Part Gravity, 2 Parts Helium” and “Machine to Ease Anxiety”, Manheim’s works are at once artistic formulas, distorted memories, and instruction manuals for a compelling and complicated vision of the universe.

Alexis K. Manheim is represented by Chandler Fine Art in San Francisco and has shown widely across the United States from California to Brooklyn including the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. She has had 7 solo shows and has been featured 3 times in MANIFEST Gallery’s/Press International Drawing Annual (Hardcover and Soft cover editions). She founded the beloved artist’s collective studio and exhibition space MadCapp Studios (2001-2003) in the Mission District of San Francisco and has 6 album covers (photography) to her name. Her work can be found in numerous private collections from San Francisco to Stockholm.

All images and content © 2004 - 2011 Alexis K. Manheim

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