1929: Born in Berlin.
1952: Moved to Australia and, later in his life, to Thailand.
Most of his professional experiences were in the commercial art scene, specifically as advertising art director of a major agency in Sydney and Bangkok. As early as 1975 he also began pursuing a path as a book illustrator in less commercially oriented ventures. Even then his motivations were driven by concern for the natural environment. The self-written and illustrated coffee table book ‘A Casual Stroll Through Siam’s Orchid World’ became a milestone in that genre at the time. It was reprinted in 1983.
1986: After retiring from advertising, he became more involved in book design and illustration. Also multimedia activities began to draw his attention, culminating in producing an experimental DVD of images\sound\and text.
2005: At this time he decided to tackle the world of comics, which, because of its interplay of images and text, had intrigued him for a long time. This is an ongoing project, far from having reached conclusion.
In the meantime, Manfred has come to feel increasingly enchained by ‘the inability to shake the illustrative concept’. It’s his envy of ‘pure art’ floating freer of conceptual links, that drives him. His latest efforts reflect and express this newly found mental freedom.
Detlev F. Neufert, curator
The exhibition’s title, “Why did he not kill me?” reflects the existential and lethal question that has haunted MAN since the age of fifteen, when he was just a second away from death. At that time a young Russian soldier put a gun to his head and was ordered to shoot him at the very end of the Second World War, in Berlin.
“Maybe it was my relaxed smile while expecting death that saved me”, supposes MAN. “Maybe it was God’s will, maybe just the moment that we shared together – two boys in a surreal but nevertheless deadly scenario; one pointing a gun on the other who was sitting on a bicycle after searching for some food… I had the feeling we just looked through our eyes into our souls and discovered something unexpected. I just said to myself, “smile, you idiot!” and tried to look deeper into his eyes.” I was not afraid to die. And he let me go.”
Can his art be an explanation to that moment?
Greek Orthodox Christian icons are based on the principle of looking deeper and deeper into an image whose subject never changes – a work of many levels.
The first layer is always gold, followed by successive layers of colors through a long and patient process working until perfection is reached for each icon. The aim is to guide the viewer to see through the material into the spiritual reality.
MAN WINKLER’S art is inspired by this Greek Orthodox tradition of iconography where he uses this style, for example, in “Veil of Gold” to portray, perhaps unconsciously, that look into the soul of the Russian soldier boy.
The deeper you look into the painted stories of Man Winkler, who has intensely and accurately refined his work through this ancient tradition of repeated layers of mixed media, the more you will discover his sensitive, romantic, and passionate worlds. Oh, so German?
“My pictures go through crushing metamorphoses”, says MAN, “until finally they reach a point where I can accept them. The most effective contribution here to a sound result is waiting, after each step until the next layer reveals itself. We may be talking months here.”
This 82 years old German artist impresses with images full of Myth and Magic. They are based on the format of medieval miniatures when art was reduced on a small size because canvas, colors, paint brushes were so expensive that the artists could only paint very small pictures.
When MAN was looking into the Russian soldiers eyes he had not one penny in his pockets and desperately looked for something to eat. A soul learns in these moments how precious the small things are.
His titles are closely connected to his paintings and help you to understand his world: “Bugs of the Cross and Tao”, “Regenwald – Souls Lost”, and ”Night Jungle–Self1”. They open the door to this artist’s soul and when you pass through it you will find that he has opened a window to your soul.
MAN WINKLER has lived for more than forty years in Bangkok.
His coffee table book, ‘A casual stroll through Siam’s Orchid World,’ is still seen as a milestone of the genre, early proof of the painter’s concern for the natural environment. The book launch took place at the famous Oriental Hotel in Bangkok in 1979 through Manager Kurt Wachtveitl.
A soul-mate of MAN WINKLER is the artist Friedrich Hundertwasser, who shares a similar style and engagement. MAN explains, “thin and impulsive lines” motivate both the artists, as shown clearly in “S.M.S. Friedrich Hundertwasser”. He become aware of Hundertwasser’s work only the last decade, and discovered they even share a similar biography and history of the war.
This Berlin born artist has another modern source of inspiration: Comic books and graphic novels, which in his mind may mimic the Greek Orthodox iconography in today’s world, as for example in the image “News”: Faces which talk with no pause like market sellers. The old man in his rocking chair in the foreground just waits in his own reality.
Through his paintings MAN WINKLER helps us to understand those many ‘faces’ of reality and their eternal truth:
There is just a thin line between death and life.
Detlev F. Neufert © 2009
Death has eluded me like the Holy Grail, - but whenever it came close it left some debris, particles, for lack of a
better term, I shall name ‘souls’. For many, many decades design and illustration have been my bag. They are disciplines that endeavor to speak to a larger audience, megaphones in a sense.
But to my mind, ‘painting’ should address one’s own soul. -And to my mind, these miniatures
are my paintings. In this context ‘painting’ is far removed from design and illustration.
When I’m impressed by a painting, it’s because I think I can sense its creator’s joy, pain, determination - and many other emotions he/she are expressing, - or are trying to labor toward in their
quest for their own intimate truth.
‘Painting’ squats there, keeping a bigger distance to ‘Art’, than it does to Myth and Magic. It always hovers there on the edge of the mist of space and Time, guarding its origins from pecking by rhyme and reason. You take it too far away from those origins, toward logic, accepted values, and a host of other traps, and it dissolves before your eyes... becomes just ‘Art’, -these days the icon of uncertainty.
‘Souls are usually considered to be immortal. Many beliefs hold they exist prior to incarnation. The concept of the soul has strong links with notions of an ‘afterlife’, but opinions may vary wildly, even within a given religion, as to what may happen to the soul after the death of the body.’(Wikipedia)
Soul of ‘painting’
For many, many decades design and illustration have been my bag. They are disciplines that endeavor to speak to a larger audience, amplifying megaphones in a sense.
But to my mind, ‘painting’ should address one’s own soul.
These are the first recorded beginnings of a lengthy journey into my inner world that is trying to find expression. I rummage around in the back of my head, hunting for a signal that lets me go on. Images emerge from everywhere, concepts arise, they embrace. A unified icon materializes - perhaps. Not all of them deserve to be called a ‘painting’.
As far as I can figure, my images here derive their conscious motivation largely from Friedrich Hundertwasser, my ‘Leidensgenosse’ of over half a century. Yet his existence I had been almost entirely unaware of for most of my life. Nevertheless, our separate paths through life showed many similarities. What impresses me most is the way he worked.
For instance, his assumption that his paintings are jewelry. The ‘preciousness’ of his creations as he saw them, echo strongly in my mind.