The usually large-scale abstract paintings of Max Presneill employ a vibrant and often jarring field of color, embedded with marks, scrawls, erasures and blockages, to question the act of painting and it's relationship to issues of existential intent and obligation, so leaning towards both a statement of individual presence (and thus a resistance to his own mortality) as much as an oblique political statement. The marks themselves, sourcing from graffiti, art history, accident and design, showcase a myriad of bravura methods of applying paint, in a move and countermove game of suppression and control.
Max Presneill is an artist and a curator based in Los Angeles. An abstract painter, he has shown globally, with works that explore sub-cultural iconography and masculine identity. He has exhibited throughout the world including New York, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Istanbul, Sydney, Guangzhou and Tokyo as well as the Durden & Ray collective in Los Angeles.
Exhibitions include solos at the New Bedford Art Museum, Freight & Volume (New York City), and Nicodim Gallery (Los Angeles), as well as inclusion in group exhibitions at Museum Villa Seiz (Germany), alongside Gerhard Richter and Sol LeWitt, Lancaster Museum of Art & History alongside David Hockney, and in both the Yokohama Triennial and 13th Istanbul Biennial. His work has also been shown at art fairs including The Armory Show (NYC), The Stray Show (Chicago), The Art Los Angeles Contemporary, Hong Kong Art Fair, the Los Angeles Art Show, Supermarket Art Fair (Stockholm) and Miami Projects (Miami).
He is currently the Director and Head Curator of the Torrance Art Museum, with particular curatorial interests in artist-led projects, emerging art, new models for curatorial methodologies and an international scope for partnerships, exchanges and building artistic communities.
He is the Founder of Durden and Ray (2009 - current), an artists' collaborative group and gallery in Los Angeles, as well as Founder and Curatorial Director of ARTRA Curatorial, an independent, voluntary, curatorial projects management team which organizes international exhibition exchanges. Previously he was the Founder and Director of the alternative space, Raid Projects, an influential gallery which had an international Artist-In-Residency program (1998-2008).
I am interested in what the act of painting means and how it can explore multiple avenues of inquiry simultaneously. From existential questions, to an awareness of presence and mortality, to notions of masculine codes and gender, all can be encompassed, for me, within the structures of thought and application of material that painting represents. When I die my paintings are what will remain. They contain my memories, hopes and dreams. An identity of sorts and the drive towards cognitive meaning, all within the political possibilities in painting.
The paintings reflect a curatorial model of selection and placement, of the key motifs of my developing language of forms, marks and gestures. This leaves them in a form of community, all elements in a dynamic relationship of meaning, a social model of knowledge. Modular. Frankensteinian, within the boundaries of the canvas as a performative arena, a stage or set where decision making engages the very human need to provide networks of understanding and cognitive associations. It is a rare space where responsibility, of identity, of choice, is focused.
Max Presneil's paintings contain sub-cultural referents to MC life, comix, sk8, street, etc, class divisions, gender bias and masculine codes, transitory political moments of struggle, oppression and suppression, performative acts, moment mori and vanitas, constructed curatorial relationships, archeological urban inner city, taxonomic archiving of memory, histories and gestures, romantic but not naive, joyous but melancholic...
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