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Installation view of gallery 1. On the left can be seen a diptych. To the centre is a gridded window which lets light fall to the centre of the floor where there is a wooden seating bench. To the right a painting hangs on the white wall showing a young child in a swimming pool, the water is vivid blue.

Manuel Solano

The Top of Each Ripple

27 August - 20 November 2022

The Top of Each Ripple marked Berlin-based Mexican artist Manuel Solano’s first solo exhibition in a UK institution.

Solano’s work focuses on ideas of identity, often considering what constitutes the development of personal attributes, emotions and feelings over the course of a life. 

Two paintings of a feminine person with sunglasses and golden drop earrings, a short brunette haircut, red lipstick, a blue square neck top and gold chains round her neck. The painting on the left shows her in profile, looking down. The right hand handing shows her smiling, looking straight at the viewer through her sunglasses. The background is grey and we can only see the person's head and shoulders.

Solano has been making work across different media for many years, but their practice transformed completely in 2014 when they lost their eyesight due to a HIV-related illness. Since this time, they have reimagined their practice and built up an extraordinary body of work across different media including painting, sculpture and film, often using their own memories of the visual world as a foundation to step off from.

In their painting work, Solano often works with a team of studio assistants to create tactile mapping techniques which allows them to apply layers of acrylic directly onto canvas with their fingertips. It is through these collaborative and careful processes that Solano crafts the images that they wish to portray in their practice. The resulting artworks are arresting depictions of themselves, loved ones, musicians, actors and celebrities, as well as architectural exteriors, domestic interiors and still lives.

Much of their work recalls and celebrates childhood and adolescent moments impacted by formative influences like family, friendships, cinema, television and pop music.

This exhibition offered audiences a glimpse into different bodies of work that Solano has developed since 2014, focusing in a broad sense on an expanded idea of portraiture as a form of artistic expression that has driven the artist’s practice to date and continues to inform much of their newest work.

Artist Interview | Manuel Solano

An installation image of a film by Manuel Solano.

About the artist

Manuel Solano (b.1987, Mexico City) completed their BFA at La Esmeralda, the National School of Painting, Sculpture, and Printmaking, Mexico City, in 2012. Solano’s work appeared in the 2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage, New Museum, New York, and the group exhibition El Chivo: Expiatorio: Sida + Violencia + Acción, Museo de la Ciudad de México. Their work has also been included in solo and group exhibitions at Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon (2021); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2019), the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (2019); the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Oregon (2017); and Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City (2016).

With thanks to William S Philips Fund for their support.


Manuel Solano: Exhibition Notes

Click here to download the Exhibition Notes for Manuel Solano: The Top of Each Ripple
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Exhibition Notes

 Listen to an audio version of the Exhibition Notes for Manuel Solano: The Top of Each Ripple here.

Exhibition images

A painting of a young child playing with toy dinosaurs in a vivid blue swimming pool.
Installation image showing Gallery two, with a diptych painting on the right hand wall showing two angles of a glamorous feminine person. To the centre of the image, in the corner of the gallery, is a small CRT box monitor on a low table. On the back wall is a large colourful painting showing three white deckchairs at the side of a vivid blue swimming pool. The walls are white and the floor is grey, and there is natural light in the space.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
An installation photograph of gallery two, showing three works of art, and two benches placed in front of the largest painting which is on the left hand wall.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
An installation image of a film by Manuel Solano.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.

Gallery Walkthrough | Manuel Solano: The Top of Each Ripple