The Mana Five with
James English Leary


The Manalog team is excited to introduce the first edition of the Mana Five, a series of questions for an individual in our community.

Born in Chicago in 1982, James English Leary is a painter, filmmaker, and educator. He was selected as a Mana Resident in 2014, and currently has a studio on the first floor. His shaped canvases are vaguely corporeal, lending an abject humor to the abstract riots of color.

James’s recent solo exhibitions include "Triple Motherfucker" at Vito Schnabel Projects, New York, "Rorschach Rhapsody" at Galeria Leyendecker, Tenerife, Canary Islands, and “The Joys of Mortgaging Your Future” at Boyfriends, Chicago. His work has been included in the Whitney Biennial, Greater New York show at MoMA PS1 and the Sundance Film Festival. James is a founding member of The Bruce High Quality Foundation. He is also a recipient of a 2015 Tiffany Foundation Award. For more information, visit

What’s the first piece of art that you remember feeling impacted by or connected to?
The Wizard of Oz which still fills me with hallucinatory, pubescent yearning.

What are you reading right now? 
A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft.

If money was no object, what work of art would you buy the person you love?
Van Gogh’s painting of his boots, which is the greatest love painting ever made.

If you could collaborate with any artist, living or dead, who would you choose?
Alfred Hitchcock.

What music puts you in the right mood to create? (or If you don’t listen to music, what other things get you to work?)
I put on His Girl Friday with Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant in the background and listen to the dialogue when I work.

Photo by Crystal Gwyn, 2014.