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Sandra Manzi is a contemporary painter from Toronto, currently residing in Hamilton. Working primarily in oil, her work blends traditional and contemporary aesthetics - merging classic techniques with new ideas. She produces realistic work which originate from imagery from her own mundane surrounding, blended with images from art history, creating a signature artistic style that recontextualizes scenes from the past in order to make us question the present. Her subject matter is chosen as a metaphor for the transience of life, and her process of sometimes layering semi transparent images is a way of exploring the idea of temporary moments and things that happen by chance. She is a graduate from the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCADU) where she received her diploma in Fine Arts/Experimental Arts, and also received a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Guelph. Sandra has exhibited in galleries in and around Toronto and Hamilton. She is a recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council, and she is a two time finalist for the Boynes Emerging Artist Award. Her paintings can be found in private collections throughout Canada, Europe and the United States.



My paintings start from observations of the everyday as a sort of template, which allows me to then work on the notion of time, movement, chaos, and how our past is connected to our present. I will often superimpose and layer many images as a way to express how my experiences of the world and my perception of it comes from my past experiences. By layering several images I try to convey the feeling that the world is an ever-changing place, and I wanted to express on a philosophical level the idea of movement and chaos in a world that is ever-changing even though it may appear stable at the time.

In a recent series I blend classical references from art history with contemporary, everyday moments - connecting these stories and people that we were then with who we are today. My inspiration comes from my need to understand human nature and life in general. 

The imagery I choose comes from many sources, but the one source which I am continually drawn to is the everyday - where I'm trying to find poetry in the ordinary and universal human connection and nostalgia in the moment. Most of my source material comes from the photographs I take from my walks around the city looking for the spontaneous energy of street life to photograph - from the hustle and bustle of the rush hour commute, to street festivals, fairs, outdoor patios, to simply watching people interact with each other within their environment. Each painting is the product of the natural rhythm of the people walking through the city, interrupted by chance encounters that I choose to focus on - targeting the unexpected moments, rather then censoring them. This way strangers have integrated their way into the composition, exemplifying the true character of city life in their actions. The viewer is invited into an environment of contemplation of existential and social themes brought about through the layering of imagery - where the individual and the crowd, the idea of blending within our urban environment, and the notion of time is highlighted. I'm particularly interested in candid unconventional moments of beauty in city dwellers that are not really worthy of a painting, but which suggest in this candid imagery a narrative that is invigorated with honesty. The locations and things that inspire me are everything from fairs and street festivals, to subway stations, and street and store signage - anywhere where I can experience people connecting with their urban surroundings, whether with strangers or with people in their life, while moving through the city. I'm also inspired by recuperating found imagery from various sources where I'll sometimes blend them with my own photos, transforming them into a brand new entity, and hence inviting the viewer to explore the image in it's new context.

Currently, I've been working on a series of paintings where I blend these scenes from ones of different time periods, and from Old Master paintings - looking for small similarities and differences which speak of larger questions. By reworking old stories and myths, I wish to illustrate how they are still present today and so entrenched in our contemporary collective psyche. In these works I'm creating paintings inspired by the Old Masters, with imagery and composition that is in direct contrast to the traditional tropes seen in Old Master paintings. The candid everyday moment which would have not been considered worthy of being used for a painting during Renaissance. I Use photo editing software to overlay these historical paintings with contemporary images until I find a powerful composition that bridges our concerns of being human today with ones we had in our past. Blending an Old Master painting with a current moment which I've experienced in my immediate surroundings to spark dialogue between past and present, tradition and technology, fact and fiction. I believe the intentional clash of formats can evoke questions about the evolution of art and the impact of technology, while exploring questions regarding our relationship to our past. I employ a process where I layer images, similar to the way a film editor uses a technique called the cross dissolve. Conceptually, transitioning from one scene to another and blending two scenes together convey a passage of time, character movement, and storylines. It's often used to signal to the audience that they are entering a new scene and that time has passed, blending together two moments so they feel conceptually linked, in spite of the audience jumping through time and space. I utilize this technique in my paintings in order to generate ideas about the human condition, and to stir our subconscious. I see myself as a film director, composing narratives from unrelated source images in order to develop a mysterious dramatic scene. In a way I'm searching for “actors” either in photos I've taken, found photographs, film stills, or in old master paintings. Inspired by their body language, I invent stories with open narratives. They are layered paintings which play with space and temporal moments, fact and fiction; creating semi-transparent imagery which creates multiple narratives. I work in series to explore ideas that have to do with memory, nostalgia, the subconscious, as well as ideas of time and place. My inspiration comes from many sources - from my personal photographs of daily life, to art history, film, and literature. 

Realism is what guides my work, but it's usually mediated in some way by technology or by some unnatural method of human intervention. I concentrate on pictorial spaces that are composed from various sources, with the purpose to trigger the imagination in both myself and the viewer. When I first started painting, photography was the technological gadget of the day which I used in my work. Now there is so much more in the digital era which influences my process - hence, I like to think that I make work that is a metaphor for the times we live in. I like pulling elements from one medium -like in film or photography, and using that effect in another medium like painting. I use this process to create my narratives, to trigger the subconscious and memories in the viewer, to bring images from different time periods together, and to explore the differences as well as the relationships between these mediums.

My process involves layering images by incorporating art historical techniques with technology. They encompass elements of multiple realities sourced through a combination of real lived experiences, images from the internet, and images from art history. Through this, a blending of visual information referencing different technological devices occurs, creating a hybrid which contain elements from each - suggesting how we may be at a crossroads in a time where the boundaries of fact and fiction and the real and the imagined, are fading. I like to look for images that speak of the fragility of existence and of everything that is ephemeral and fleeting. These are things that resonate with me on a subconscious level, and I am particularly interested in the possibilities - both visually and conceptually, in the associations between images.

In recent paintings I reference the different genres from the canon of art history - layering and combining images from art history with scenes of moments in daily life as I experience it in the present. I do this because I believe that although centuries may pass, human nature is routinely recycled. As an art history buff, I learned many things by seeing the parallel between art with culture and human nature. Through a blend of different periods and styles, I wish to get the viewer to reflect on the present in relation to our past. This series started as I was asking myself the questions of how do I make work that has value in this time in our lives right now, what is the work that I can make that has some meaning and can make some contribution to the very long conversation of art history as it relates to the human experience? My intention is to make us think about how people and our day to day lives may be similar or different from the way it was many years ago, and how artists have chosen to depict these events through the centuries. I'm also interested in how technology has mediated these experiences. If it is different, in what way? If it is the same, how and why might it be similar? I like to think that time has changed many things, but our emotions and what it means to be human has not changed. I capitalize on the intersection between traditional subjects such as portraiture, florals, and other genre's within the canon of art history, with the more mundane and non traditional imagery from our daily lives. Hints of certain art historical periods and movements such as 17th century Baroque art, Impressionism, and Surrealism get blended with digital applications to create a natural continuum of these movements that are constantly shifting as our realities change with technology.



Elaine Fleck Gallery, Toronto

Art Interiors, Toronto

Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Rental and Sales Gallery, Toronto

Crown and Press Gallery, Hamilton

Summer and Grace Gallery, Oakville

Art Gallery of Hamilton, Art Rental and Sales Gallery, Hamilton

Lush and Found, Toronto



2025 - Summer and Grace Gallery, Oakville, Solo Exhibition, May 29 - June 30, 2025


2024 - Summer and Grace Gallery, A Beautiful Life: Still Life Exhibition, May 30 - July 14, 2024

2024 - Elaine Fleck Gallery, Two Person Show, April 6-30, 2024

2024 - Crown and Press Gallery, February 3 - 21, 2024

2023 - Elaine Fleck Gallery, Toronto, Group Show, December 2023

2023 - Centre3 Gallery, Hamilton, Ont., Two person show, Nov. 3 - 28, 2023

2023 - Elaine Fleck Gallery, Three Person Show, Oct. 4-28, 2023

2023 - Elaine Fleck Gallery, Group Show, Sept. 7-30, 2023

2023 - Crown and Press Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario

2023 - Paula While Diamond Gallery, "Big Idea Show", July - August 2023

2023 - Square Foot Show - Florals, Online show, May 4 - 6, 2023

2023 - Art Gallery of Hamilton Annual Art Sale, Hamilton, Ont., April 27 - 30, 2023

2023 - Dundas Valley School of Art 52nd Annual Auction, Hamilton, Ont., April 10 - 15, 2023

2023 - Ironwood Cider House, Gallery, Solo Show, Niagara on The Lake, Ont., April 15 - May 4, 2023

2023 - Summer and Grace Gallery, "Joy" Exhibit, Dec. 1, 2022 - Feb. 27, 2023

2022 - Paula White Diamond Gallery, "Square Foot Show", Nov. 26 - Dec. 4, 2022, Waterloo, Ont.

2022 - Paula White Diamond Gallery, "Big Ideas Show", Oct. 27 - Nov. 12, 2022, Waterloo, Ont.

2022 - Art Gallery of Mississauga, Second Annual Juried Show of Visual Arts, Sept.13 - Oct. 23, 2022

2022 - Summer And Grace Gallery, Oakville, Ontario

2022 - 2023 -  Art Gallery of Hamilton, Art Rental And Sales Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario

2022 - Earls Court Gallery, "Bouquet", April 7 - May 7, 2022, Hamilton, Ontario

2021 - 2023 - Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Rental And Sales Gallery, Toronto, Ontario

2021 - Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, July 2-11., Toronto, Ontario

2010 - George Brown College Gallery, Three Person Show, Toronto, Ontario

1998 - 2007 - Gallery Moos, Toronto, Group Shows, Toronto, Ontario

2008 - Fran Hill Gallery – “The Portrait Challenge”, Group Show, Toronto, Ontario

2004 - The Burston Gallery, “Crooked Grind”, Solo Show, Toronto, Ontario

2002 - Luft Gallery, “Hockey Card Portraits”, Solo Show, Toronto, Ontario

1998 - West Wing Art Space, “Fleeting Moments”, Solo Show, Toronto, Ontario


2022 - Boynes Emerging Artist Award, 7th Edition Finalist.

2022 - Boynes Emerging Artist Award, 6th Edition Finalist. 

2021 - Ontario Arts Council, Exhibition Assistance Grant

2003 -Toronto Arts Council, Exhibition Assistance Grant

2002 - Canada Council for the Arts Grant

2002 - Ontario Arts Council Grant


1988 - B.A., Fine Arts, University of Guelph

1987 - A.O.C.A., Fine Arts/Experimental Arts, Ontario College of Art and Design

1984 - C.T.S.A.D., Fine Arts, Central Technical School, Department of Fine Arts, Toronto


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