Ioana Manolache

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Paintings are simultaneously optical illusions as well as physical objects.  Oil paint’s unique body, constantly appearing and retreating as representation, allows me to find the provocative space between dimension and flatness, physicality and image.  My early training as a Byzantium icon painter shaped my approach towards paintings as objects, and images as stand-ins for an unknowable, other significance.

The biblical story of the Incredulity of Saint Thomas frames my own practice of meticulously investigating mysterious objects through a stringent act of looking.  A moment largely known for its claim of doubt, its gruesome physicality and the transgressive impulse between touch and vision, the event connotes belief through direct physical experience.  Painting from observation accounts me a unique intimacy in referencing memorable events while being in direct rapport with the surface of a memento, a physical testament of a memory.

Certain objects’ surfaces reveal hints of their history and evoke a consciousness worthy of exploration. Their form points towards other meaning that allude to their surroundings and the person or people inflicting agency upon them.  Objects that use mass made, budget materials in their reproduction of traditionally venerated symbols, intrigue me.  This generic mass production further reveals the daily elevation and depreciation of symbolic figures in our daily life.

The Tricolor series, my most recent body of work, converts small, cheaply made Romanian souvenirs into larger than life oil on canvas works.  Flags are traditional icons of history but also a reflective space of the present, vulnerable to the interpretation of the most current event.  At once celebratory and mournful, flags simultaneously signify exaltation but manifest a memorial archive of history.

I observe daily life as a fascinating paradox, seeing things in both their sacred functions and prosaic roles.  A Byzantium icon is at once a sacred imagination of imagery, an object to be kissed, and a combination of wood, gold leaf and tempera.  Upon completion, the objects in my paintings remain in a state of reverence while the actual still life items return to the mundane or disappear as debris.  For me, the painting process has become a devotional endeavor and a reevaluation of meaning, brushstroke by brushstroke.


2015 MFA Columbia University, School of the Arts, New York NY
2011 BFA The Cooper Union, School of the Arts, New York NY


2016 Performance and Workshop for 2MF, Wendy’s Subway, Brooklyn, NY
2011 Ghost Light, The Cooper Union, New York NY


Bearings, NARS International Artist Residency, organized by Eriola Pira, Brooklyn NY

Stone Soup Nasty, Orgy Park, curated by Katherine Aungier, Jennifer Lee, Zuriel Waters, and Steve Mykietyn, Brooklyn NY

Surface Tension, Saatchi Art at Parasol Projects, curated by Rebecca Wilson, New York NY
Floating Point, Judith Charles Gallery, curated by Paddy Johnson, New York NY
Columbia MFA Thesis Exhibition, Fisher Landau Center, curated by Omar Lopez Chahoud, Queens NY

Art Salon at Collyer’s Mansion, Collyer’s Mansion, Brooklyn NY
First Year MFA Show, Wallach Gallery, Columbia University, New York NY
The Last Brucennial, BHQFU at 837 Washington St., New York NY

Networking Tips for Shy People, 200 Livingston St., Brooklyn NY

Single Fare, RH Gallery, New York NY

Serenity Now, Milavec Hakimi Gallery, New York NY
VACI Group Show, Fowler-Kellogg Art Center, Chautauqua NY

Art of the Book, The Cooper Union, New York NY

The Cooper Union End of the Year Show, The Cooper Union, New York NY


Rema Hort Mann Artist Grant Nominee

LeRoy Neiman Gallery Curatorial Project Grantee, Columbia University
New American Paintings MFA Edition no. 117, Noteworthy Selection, Editor’s Choice

Dean’s Project Research Travel Grant Award, Columbia University
Residency Fund Award, Columbia University

2013 -15
Visual Arts Fellowship, Columbia University

2011 -12
Rema Hort Mann Artist Grant Nominee

Betty Goldin Memorial Fund Book Prize

Chautauqua Institute Summer Residency Full Fellowship

2008 – 10
The Center for the Performing Arts Partners Scholarship


2014 Contemporary Arts Center at Woodside, Full Fellowship, Troy NY
2010 Chautauqua Art Institute Summer Residency, Full Fellowship, Chautauqua NY


Derman, Sonya and Stabio, Maria, “2MF with Ioana Manolache”, 2MF Interview at Clocktower Radio, New York NY, May 16

Zevitas, Steven, “Editor’s Pick, Noteworthy Selection”, New American Paintings, MFA Annual Edition, Issue 117, April/May 2015

Manolache, Ioana, “this side up (Pedro’s Flag)”, Ed. Chaeun Lee, “On the Rhetoric of Memory”, Interventions Journal MODA Publication, Columbia University, Vol.3, Issue 3:, July 2014


Stirring Still, Group exhibition curated and organized by myself and Maria Stabio, including Samuel T Adams, Gina Beavers, Amy Bennett Matthew Buckingham, Jessica Dickinson, Lois Dodd, Josephine Halvorson, Corin Hewitt, Elizabeth Jaeger, Claudio Nolosco, John Walker, Leroy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, New York NY

Works in Progress, Invitational panel speaker, Columbia University Curatorial Studies Department, New York NY

Walls, Group exhibition curated and organized by Clara Claus and Ioana Manolache, Cooper Union, New York NY


Painting I, Visiting Artist, CUNY Brooklyn College, Brooklyn NY

Drawing I, Instructor, Columbia University, New York NY

New York Art Studio, Portfolio Prep Instructor, New York NY

Art of the Book, Visiting Artist, 2DD Foundation, The Cooper Union, New York NY