Hello, my name is Manuel Solano. I’m an artist from Mexico city and I became legally blind 4 years ago. I work in painting, video, performance and sculpture and for these paintings I worked with acrylic on canvas. What I do is I stretch the canvas directly on the wall with wool staples and then I paint with my hands. I use tactile markers for example strings and pins or pipe cleaners to mark key points in the composition for example the eyes if it’s a portrait or the skyline if it’s a landscape.
I started painting when I was a teenager and I thought I was really good at it. When I became blind for a brief moment I thought that my artistic career was over. But then I decided to try to paint as an experiment or almost a joke and once I started I couldn’t stop and I ended up making more than 100 paintings in the first few months of my blindness. And I realized I couldn’t stop being an artist and even though I may not be able to enjoy painting as much as I use to, it’s still a very important means of expression for me. And expression of my identity is what I have been after all my life. I see that now.
My work usually incorporates themes from pop culture but always to inform about my own life and my own identity. I would like to think that I use pop culture as a kind of bridge over the gap between myself and the rest of the world. For example in my painting I don’t know love, a figure in the foreground is myself and I am dressed up as Lilu Dallas from the movie the fifth element. And this was my Halloween costume in 2016. In a vacation that I took in Taos, NM. The line I don’t know love which is the title for the painting is also a line in the movie which I felt really resonated with how I was feeling at that moment and also with the character that I was playing in that situation.
Another example would by my painting I am flying. I was working in my studio and music was playing and the song Ecstasy by P.J. Harvey came on and the opening line is “Flying, I’m flying” and I remember this was also the last dialogue from the character Nancy in the movie the Craft. In this painting I’m Flying we see her strapped to a bed in a mental asylum and she is convinced she is flying. Part of what drew me to this image was the tension between how this character is feeling and how she is physically restrained. In many ways, disability is very restricting and I need to remind myself to not let myself be tied down.
Audio guide recorded on the occasion of “2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage.”