Miracle Gallery (diptych) from the series Blind Transgender With AIDS, 2014
In 2013, shortly after graduating from La Esmeralda, the National School of Painting, Sculpture, and Printmaking, Mexico City, Manuel Solano lost their sight due to complications from an HIV-related infection. Moving away from the experimental practice of their earlier years, Solano returned to art making with the series Blind Transgender with AIDS (2014). Comprised of expressive portraits and word paintings on paper, including Miracle Gallery, this series speaks of adaptation and transition. Sardonic and defying, at times furious and harsh, Blind Transgender with AIDS conveys the determination of the artist. Almost ten years have passed since then and the bitter irony contained in Miracle Gallery can now be read as a hopeful prophecy. Although they didn’t regain their eyesight, Solano found in painting a unique way to still share their viewpoint and expand the viewer’s visual perception of the world; a miracle both for the artist and for their audience. Since 2014, Solano has developed unique methodologies to continue their art practice. In their painting work, they resort to what they describe as a “haptic” approach; collaborating with assistants, Solano uses pins, string, and pipe cleaners to create tactile maps they rely on to apply acrylic paint directly onto canvas with their hands. From Miracle Gallery on, Solano has allowed us tremendous access to their experiences in exploring the shifting and flexible position of their identity through autobiographical works that are inherently vulnerable, intimate, and proximate.