Garis & Hahn | 263 Bowery
January 5, 2015 (New York, NY) – Garis & Hahn is pleased to present Mind in the Cave,an exhibition of recent work from Michael Maxwell. In his first New York solo show, Maxwell conceptually links a stylistic primitivism with the Neuropsychology of changing states of consciousness and modernist abstraction. Maxwell’s raw, heavily textured paintings and mixed media works explore the primacy of immediate perceptual experience and materiality.
The exhibition includes work from three series in Maxwell’s practice: Phosphenes, Li and Orgone. In all three series, a diverse range of materials including powdered quartz crystal, clay, silver leaf, beeswax, rabbit skin glue, oil, acrylic, wheat paste, mineral pigments and plant dyes activate luminous reflective surfaces on underlying digital imagery or raw unprimed canvas.
In his “Phosphenes” series, complex organic patterns mirror the active play of light experienced with eyes closed, producing forms that shift within the visual field. The layered compositions of abstract pattern give rise to more complex forms, echoing the process in which the mind builds dream imagery from internally generated patterns of light seen in hypnogogic states.
These patterns have an external parallel which Maxwell references in the “Li”series. The series is rooted in the Chinese concept of li,which posits an underlying order in nature as reflected in its organic forms. Here, fields of gestural markings build up compositions, manifesting irrationally balanced asymmetrical patterns akin to those seen in the natural environment.
The “Orgone,” series focuses specifically on the physical properties of the materials, classifying them as either “conductors” or “insulators.” Compositions of oppositely charged materials generate visual, if not physical, electricity from the interaction of polar materials.
The works recall the focus of early modernist art on the unique, heroic vision of the individual, traveling along a continuum of modernist investigations into stylistic primitivism and the unconscious. At the same time, they operate on a scientifically grounded metaconceptual level, drawing attention to the viewer's own shifts in perception and attention as they are physically acted upon by contrasting fields of pattern, color and raw materials.
All these works return to the visual vocabulary of the subconscious and propose a decidedly physical forward response to artistic experience. As an alternative to semiotics, they rebuke our tendency to formalize art into linguistic interpretation, instead exploring other modes in which the brain and body process and translate information.
About the Artist
Michael Maxwell received his BFA in art history from the University of Oklahoma and an MFA from Rutgers University. His studio is in New York City’s Lower East Side.
About Garis & Hahn
Garis & Hahn is a gallerycumKunsthalle that mounts exhibitions focused on conceptual narratives and relevant conversations in contemporary art. By displaying an array of carefully curated artists, the gallery endeavors to provide accessibility, education, awareness, and a market to the art while engaging both the arts community and a broader general audience.
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