Maxim – Infinite Drama
Michael Meir-Wright takes a look at the new exhibition from the frontman of iconic band, The Prodigy
Whether raising awareness of urgent issues or arguing for change, art has always been seen as a mirror to contemporary society. Considering the volatile landscape we currently find ourselves navigating, it’s a school of thought that now seems prescient. One artist clearly contemplating this theme is Maxim. An accomplished multidisciplinary artist (as well as the lead singer of dance-rock band The Prodigy), Infinite Drama is his new solo retrospective at the Miart Gallery in London that explores his examinations into the darker side of human nature and pressing cultural issues.
Encompassing sculpture, mixed media and paintings, the exhibition is rooted in Afrofuturism and abstraction, melded together with elements of Surrealism and Pop Art. Nowhere are these influences felt more keenly than in the trio of sculptures based upon ancient African masks. Coated in a reflective paint recalling the black science-fiction aesthetics of writers like Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany, they also evoke Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which itself appropriated codes from African art. They are a fusion of history and future, reclaimed for the diaspora.
The human condition is considered in a series of images called Therapy, informed by the Rorschach Test and now reconceptualised as Maxim’s signature motif – the butterfly. At once both ethereal and disconcerting, the creatures are rendered as skeletal, barbed figures beset on either side by monstrous wings of obsidian, scarlet, viridian and gold. Similarly, Red Dawn is a mixed media piece that sees the body of butterflies replaced with skeletal arms and twisted masks that tell of the less savoury aspects of our psyches.
Maxim also seeks to remind us that even when we’re faced with injustice and inequality, hope can be a powerful weapon. Balaclava Ballerina – perhaps the standout pieces in the exhibition – were inspired by images of female protestors facing police in riot gear during the riots in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. The artist recalled that he was drawn to the woman’s innocence in the face of heavily armed law enforcement. The final results are delicate chrome statues featuring miniature automatic rifles. Only, these are not weapons in the traditional sense. Maxim has reimagined them as tools to spread optimism and peace.
Infinite Drama challenges us to consider the darkest aspects of both society and our own minds. However, it also dares to seek out moments of levity and to spread hope in a turbulent and unpredictable world.
Maxim: Infinite Drama is on at the Miart Gallery in Mayfair, London until November 7th.
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