Hey kids, meet Manik - a Feliz super-friend and talented beast and prolific artist. This past year he's designed a clothing line, album art for LNS Crew, had multiple shows in Austin and San Antonio, and helped make our postcards + tote bags. I met up with him on Sunday after a game of chicken shit bingo and a couple of beers. We hung out in his studio where he'll be for then next 72 hours preparing for his show at Not Gallery this Friday.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
All my expensive ass paint. I buy the cheapest quality everything else and the most expensive paint. I have some tiny tubes that cost me like 70 bones each. Things like brushes I get from the dollar store. People compliment my color a lot and that is a real source of pride for me.
What's the best thing and worst thing about making art in Austin?
Austin's art scene is a strange place. The best thing is its sooo collaborative and nice! I feel so loved when I go out. But I have to admit, Ive learned I suck at collaborations and turn down pretty much all of them. But im always game to collabo with Jenny Mulder from SISTER. We hate all the same art so we work well together. The worst thing about Austin art scene is its sooo collaborative and nice! I wish it was more competitive. I almost never hear of negative press for art shows in town. That is so strange to me. I always wear my heart on my sleeve. There arent that many legit places to show work. I think a more competitive environment will only up the quality of art like crazy. Ive been to many art shows that are friends getting together to drink beer. Ive had some great debaucherous times at shows like that and still enjoy going but hardly anyone (myself included) is even considering the exhibit. There are such few people in town spending stacks on art and they arent going to collect everybody in your art collective. That being said, there are definitely a bunch of artists in town im a fanboy for and inspire me everyday. Shout out Xavier Schipani, Jared Ritz, Tamara Becerra Valdez come immediately to mind. Overall, i think there are more talented female artists in Austin than male artists. That rules. I think ive turned down every group show invitation that didnt include at least one woman artist. Fuck a boys club.
What piece of art do you wish you owned?
I wish I owned a Chris Ofili painting. Best living painter. But Im a few hundred thousand dollars short in my bank account. Maybe I should start a kickstarter. Help me acquire a Chris Ofili piece!
The last art show that surprised you?
Last year, myself and about 60 other artists from around the world actually collaborated on a massive installation. In one week, we converted a 6500 sq ft warehouse into a fucked up IKEA called AHöM. Complete with furniture showrooms, a cafe, checkout lines, even a sculpture of the IKEA monkey. We had the same bland music from IKEA playing on the PA spliced in with scathing and sarcastic commentary on consumerism. We even had those little pencils and replicas of the same price tags IKEA uses except with really dark jokes on them. What surprised me was how well it all turned out, all the artists and interns were on the same page almost instantly. Definitely the biggest production values on the smallest budget. Still not sure how we pulled it off money-wise. The concept that curators, Zac Traeger and Katie Rose Pipkin, had was just too brilliant. Couple thousand people visited over the weekend that "couldn't even"
Favorite fashion designers?
Mara Hoffman is a big inspiration in my studio. All her clothes have this insanely colorful "goddess" vibe to them. And her patterns are bonkers. Really basic and child-like nature and eyeball shapes and ancient architecture influenced. Her color sense is on point. Im into it. Indian people love color. We have the Holi festival that is about celebrating the spiritual nature of colors. I wish all the "colored powder fun runs" that are so popular now would also educate the runners on where that comes from. If I were a millionaire, my closet would be full of Kenzo and Billionaire Boys Club. I would really like to design luggage with Mara Hoffman. A boy can dream I guess.
Tell us about your first art show
When I was in elementary school in India, we had to bring something that started with the letter of our first name for show and tell. For "M" I brought monsters. I spent the weeks leading up to it drawing like a hundred crude monsters on loose sheets of paper. Some were like 5 feet long. Just a bunch of pages taped together. My teacher hung them up in our classroom and in the hallways. I remember some classmates cried and complained of nightmares so my art had to be taken down. I would call that a pretty kick ass first art show in my book. 23 years later, Im still trying to top that one.
Know any good jokes?
This farmer holding a duck walks into the kitchen where his wife is sitting and says, "This is the pig I've been sleeping with behind your back all these years." His wife says "Honey, that's not a pig that's a duck." And the farmer looks at his wife and says "I wasn't talking to you."
Why did you almost title your upcoming book "I think a lot about eating you out"? Do you have anyone you run these ideas by first?
Part of being an artist is myth making. Cy Twombly eventually stopped showing up to his art shows. My favorite painters are very romantic. The book is very provocative and touches on cannibalism, devouring indigenous culture but also actually eating people. There is a lot of animal flesh too and it explores ideas of lust and egoism through the history of poaching exotic animals in colonial India. In the end I decided I think a lot about eating you out would fit better as a title for a painting I hope to make soon. I feel like Frida Kahlo would come up with a title like that. I do have people I trust to be real with me, have well thought out and sensitive opinions, and to call me out on my bullshit. Sometimes I reach out to them but for the most part I don't. Lots of artists struggle explaining their vision to people, but thats why we make art! Also, if I'm gonna bomb, I'm wanna bomb hard. The most successful people in this world are the people who can make decisions, for better or worse.