Jeremy Mangan

Harbor Crossing
Oil and acrylic on panel
40×30” 2012
Alder Stand
Oil and acrylic on panel
30X40″ 2012


How does your work reflect, respond to, or intervene in the real?

Once in a while I find myself keenly aware that I am getting a glimpse into something unusually significant, something truly extraordinary, something more “real” than the reality my senses deliver. Here’s what I’ve come to know about these moments: They can reveal themselves to me through a variety of vehicles: nature, art in any form, conversations, a passing scene while driving, a quiet room, a certain quality of light… They are rare and usually brief. I am always compelled and moved by them, even grateful for them. They can’t be captured or relayed with logic or verbal language alone—not that they are irrational, but they are more than rational, they elude our standard apprehensions and categories. And this, I would argue, makes them uniquely interesting, valuable, and worthy of pursuit, contemplation, and exploration. 

In a big way this is what I’m after in my work. I want to put form to these moments, in hopes of getting a longer look at them, understanding them a little better, enjoying them a little longer, and sharing them with you. If in that sharing you say “Yes, that’s true for me, too!” then something beautiful, enduring, deeply human, and truly meaningful has really happened.


How do you think about your work in relation to the history of particular forms, processes, or artistic genres that you work in or are inspired by?

I don’t actively think about or approach my work in terms of any category or genre. I paint very intuitively. The imagery almost always comes to me first. Genres and concepts emerge, but these after the fact. Two that I find agreeably appropriate, with some minor tailoring, are magical realism and the sublime.

I know magical realism is primarily a literary term, but it is being applied more and more broadly and it certainly suits my work. Often viewers will suggest that my work is surreal. Although it certainly contains surreal elements at times, I feel that the surreal suggests the absurd and impossible too strongly. I think that my work operates in a more plausible realm: unlikely, yes—even highly unlikely at times—but plausible. I try to be right on that line.

As for the sublime, I’m pursuing some of the same ideas, but in a quieter, more subtle, more subdued way. I am interested in capturing some of the same elusive greatness, but in smaller doses and less directly. I compare it to trying to see an object in the dark—one sees it better by looking just to the side of it.

Ultimately, I think about making work that I would want to see. I think about rewarding the viewer. These considerations are paramount.