CYRIL MANN  (1911-1980)

Light and Shadow c.1950
Oil on Canvas, 87.5 x 107cm

On Wednesday, January 6, 1949, Cyril Mann wrote in his diary: "...Feel very like painting a sunscape, must be a big canvas, so that I can work into the sky with all its variations. Most of the picture would be dominated by the sun and sky but there must be at the bottom part of the picture a flat plain of land with the edge of the horizon curved slightly like the rim of the earth. Different colour schemes attract me, but variations of hot and cold whites have possibilities."

Mann was to call this his 'Manifesto Painting'. Working first from a small oil sketch, he then completed a larger design in gouache, before incorporating everything he knew about light and shadow in this monumental canvas. It demonstrates how Cyril Mann saw and painted light, not in the way of Turner and the Impressionists, but as a dynamic force, continuously reflecting and bouncing off surfaces at its angle of incidence.

In this painting, he also stresses his ideas on what he called "the solid shadow". Unlike other artists, Cyril Mann sees shadow as "a unifying veil", attaching the subject to the surface it is placed on. This phenomenon is normally invisible to the naked eye. "It is my duty as an artist to paint nature not as it can be seen, but as I know it is," he explained. "I have to falsify in order to achieve an added truth".

There are times when the solid-shadow effect is visible to the naked eye, for example, when buildings in misty sunlight cast shadows on the ground.

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