Port Elizabeth-born illustrator but based in Cape Town, Pola Maneli& his art style bridges between elements of pop culture and social commentary. Pola is an ad man by day and an illustrator by night. He strives for both his design work and his drawings to affect social behavior which they do.

Pola Maneli's photo

Maneli’s signature style combines elements of pop culture and social commentary “viewed through a vernacular lens”. His work is poppy and Afrocentric adding a modern feel to it. I love the aesthetic of Pola’s work it embodies him as an individual. The relationship he has with form, color & beauty. A lot of people might not get Pola Maneli’s work but its beauty to me. Maneli finds stereotypes so intriguing: that nationalities and cultures can be illustrated through visual symbols.

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His main vision through his work is expressing basic human emotions. The core reason I love Maneli’s work is the use of the component of culture, reflecting economic and social substrates in his designs. It transmits ideas and values inherent in every culture across space and time. Its role changes through time, acquiring more of an aesthetic component here and a socio-educational function there. Pola has completed a BTech in applied design at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University(NMMU) in Port Elizabeth last year. He is pursuing a goal of becoming an advertising art director (he works for agency Boomtown). But doesn’t neglect his skills of drawing.

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He’s drawn ever since he discovered, as a “podgy” kid, that being able to render dragons and dinosaurs had social currency. He’s graduated from crayons to computer vectors, but still “draws people in cafés” to keep his basic skills alive. Maneli’s drawings have commercial currency now. He plans to continue exhibiting in galleries, using his own name rather than the pseudonym he employed as a student, Paolo Maneli (amusingly, he says, using a name that sounded Italian helped to get him some early commissions).

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I truly love the way Pola thinks & executes his work he shapes his art as well as his being shaped by the creative impulses of other artists.His illustrations appeal not only to his “bubble” of peers, but also sell to middle-aged white ladies.

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