FAULT Magazine in Conversation with Maximilian Wiedemann ahead of his Collier Bristow Collaboration

 

 

While planning this feature and our upcoming collaboration, I’ve read many other articles on Maximilian Wiedemann and his work and in my opinion, none have managed to capture and convey the soul of Max or what he is trying to show with his artwork. Like many artists, the more journalists that attempt to write and add outside narratives to his creations, the less people are listening to Max’s true voice which lives within his artwork. As Max gears up to launch his new range of t-shirt designs in collaboration with Collier Bristow, we wanted to learn more about Max and his views on the art world and beyond.

Rather than further muddy the waters and assign another box to place Maximillian’s artistry inside, I asked him to describe it in his own words for us.

 

Max: I’m a graffiti based artist. I come from the good old days inspired by modern art and subway artistry. I started painting on walls which were uninteresting to the public and it started to get me jobs and I was able to continue. If I had to describe my style, I’d say it’s where Haute meets street art.

Oozing with iconography and vibrant palettes, the rawness of his early work still appear in his contemporary pieces. In many ways, Max fills the space in the modern art world which Andy Warhol left behind. Despite his love of Haute, fashion, and the refined, Max stays true to his roots of street art and his original inspirations for creating. Observing his surroundings and finding art in the discord, Max’s work often plays on modern perception, themes, and self-reflection.

 

With the latest generation, I’m very aware that 15 minutes of fame is hugely sought after and admired but as an artist my job is to bring self-reflection to a relevant zeitgeist and plant new seeds for healthier ideas and ways of thinking.  

My new t-shirt designs mirror the vanity and the foolishness of those in our society who believe that money rules everything. “The better you look the more you see”, “The only pain Is champagne”, I’m turning the mirror on those people and reflecting their current mindset upon them in the harsh light of day.

The more I look at society the more I’m seeing how materialistic it is becoming and how much less we’re looking at the true values of humanity the way those who came before us did. I want a return to a broader way of thinking and to show that while money talks, it has nothing to say.

 

It’s clear that Maximillian cares and his frustrations are sincere and from a genuine place. For a clearer understanding, it’s best to observe Max’s own entrance into the art world. Finding his talent for street art and graffiti (or vandalism to some) and having never studied a formal art course, Max has never strayed from his grass roots mentality. Despite being commissioned by some of the biggest names and working with many social elites, there is a disdain in his voice when he discusses the “rich art school kids” anyone (including myself) would have met at university. Max is an artist who has excelled through the grit of his talent and has had nothing handed to him – while not fully innocent of splurging nor claiming to never have indulged during his success, he refuses to be a person of excess and refuses to create artwork just for a paycheque.

 

The rich are getting richer the poorer are struggling more. I’ve self-indulged at times, but I’m not going to do art without being in the position of messaging. My statements in this collection are directed at materialistic people who’ll do anything for a pay day. I’m asking them directly, “what is your integrity worth?”.  These are basic questions but I see more and more people chasing money instead of humanity or anything else without a financial gain.

 

The message is clear in his tone and his words that his latest body of work is born from his own frustrations with modern society and what he perceives to be the chasing of skewed ideals. While he touches on the point about his own times of self-indulgence, I also know that Max worked within the advertising industry for over ten years. I quizzed:

 

FAULT: You’ve said in the past that the advertising industry strengthened your understanding on the power of art, but as an artist, how could you not feel stifled or insincere working for such large and sometimes soulless corporations?

In advertising, we played the game of seducing people but with my art, I’m playing with the art of seduction which is a totally different thing. Living in the world of advertising I’d often tell myself, “this isn’t a real world, it’s faulty and manipulative.”

Advertising is the art of seduction but my seduction is my art.

I’m just putting a mirror up and showing you who you are and letting you truly perceive yourself and your values. People go and buy Rolexes in hopes that others will see it and say “wow, look at him and his money” but I want them to truly see themselves how I do. I have a design which takes their “Rolex” and I change it to “relax” as if to say “well done you own a Rolex what next? What does it truly mean? Nothing. Just relax.”  

You should be cool for what’s inside, if you can’t sit on a street curb and share interesting ideas and insights and only have a shiny watch and large bank account to offer, then you really have nothing.

I’m not against the establishment, I’m against soulless people who use daddy’s money as a ticket to notoriety to then become popular figures and idols. I’m a self-made man and I thought a long time about if I could do this art thing. But I’m putting my life on the line for this project because I have a message which I need to get out.

People are chasing money to pay for a soulless lifestyle which forces them to keep chasing money for even more soullessness, it’s a vicious cycle.

As an artist, I’m here to communicate. My art is communication.

 

Throughout our discussion, I’m wanting more and more to quiz Max on his chosen medium for this project. Why t-shirts and why fashion at all? By its very nature, fashion is materialistic and I recalling Oscar Wilde’s essay from 1885’s New York Tribune ( also published again in The Philosophy Of Dress’) “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”

 

FAULT: Fashion is and has been known to be a revolving door of ideas, trends and physical materials, so why choose such a throw away medium for such a long lasting message?

A canvas appears in someone’s home or gallery and is tucked away to be seen only those who are interested but I’m thrusting my message at you on a street level. I know it’s hypercritical to put it on a t-shirt but I feed off of the irony for this project. All my statements derive from irony, “La Vie En Pose”, “Detox to retox”, “The only pain is champagne” I’m in the business of the ironic and that’s the hidden or not-so-hidden layer to what I’m working on now.

On the same level, the collection is called Raw and Ready and you wear them direct from the hanger without receiving any social merit based on the name on the label alone. You can walk around with an outfit made by huge high fashion designers and receive a social standing based on that but with my collection, you have vibrant messaging without the social labeling. Once again I return to my saying “money talks but has nothing to say”, but my collection has much to say and much to question.

 

One take away from our discussion is the clarity of Max’s resolve to insight change of some degree to modern society. While conscious about adding another long and drawn out personal analysis of Max and further muddy the waters as mentioned in the article’s intro – it is important for me that Max’s message does not come across as false to our readers. There is a reason this interview is so challenging and far from the “What are you promoting? Why? What is your FAULT?” format some might expect. Launching a for-profit business in hopes of revealing the greed of modern society, sounds confusing on paper but through challenging discussion, we can hear his true motivations. A graffiti artist finds their canvas in the environment most needing of a message, and an artist finds a medium most suitable for their ideas – it’s no surprise then that Max has chosen fashion for his latest art piece.

As Max is passionate about having his name tied to this collection as am I with FAULT’s as we gear up to present the launch at Lights Of Soho this month. Grilling? Perhaps; but from this interview Max’s message is as clear as day and really fills us with excitement for his new collection. Time will only tell if the change Max is calling for will be acted on or if the statements he is making will be heard, but one thing is for certain, Max will keep creating and keep questioning as all great artists do.

Money may talk, but Max has far more too much to say before he listens to it.

Words: Miles Holder

 

Maximilian Wiedemann & Collier Bristow will launch their collaboration at Lights Of Soho on November 9th. For more information head over to lightsofsoho.com

FAULT Focus: Joe Webb, Contemporary Artist

Joe Webb is a contemporary artist who uses images from vintage magazines and posters to conjure surreal narratives that express both a comical and cynical take on the modern world. His bold collages are hand-made, with Photoshop strictly off-limits and a decidedly ‘anti-technology’ approach to his art. Ironically, his work has taken the Internet world by storm, going viral on multiple online platforms and being shared by hundreds of thousands of people. Joe is based in the UK and has original collages and prints in the Saatchi Gallery in London. He is exhibiting at the Saatchi and at Hang Up Gallery later this year.

Hot Tub - 2014

Hot Tub – 2014

When did you first begin making art?

From childhood…I was one of those weird kids who drew all the time, made spaceships from washing up bottles, that sort of thing – I just didn’t stop.

What were your original influences?

I’m really into painting, seeing a Peter Doig exhibition about 10 years ago made me interested in making artwork again after stopping for a while. Also Neo Rauch, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Fred Tomaseli. I only like pictures on walls really- the kinetic, conceptual, 3d neon art installations can do one. Matisse’s cut-out exhibition currently at the Tate Modern is outstanding.

How has your art practice and approach to collage changed over the course of your life so far?

Over the years, narratives and ideas have crept into the pieces. I’ve always tried to inject some dark humour into the work, which seems to be getting darker. I know really ‘real’ art is supposed to be ambiguous but I like to tell a story through my art that can be deciphered.

At The Gallery  - 2014

At The Gallery – 2014

You have described your art practice as ‘anti-technology’- how does this combine with the nature of the modern art world in regards to social media, networking, self-promotion etc.?

It’s a dichotomy; on one hand I want to get away from the screens we are all glued to nowadays…but then I can spend half the day posting collages on Facebook. I suppose I can’t deny that it’s been an essential tool for getting my work seen. A recent collage of mine was shared 100,000 times on Tumblr and those numbers would be hard to beat in a traditional gallery exhibition. The internet is fun- there are amusing cats, and you can find videos of obscure 1970’s jazz fusion bands…I suppose all that stuff is quite good but it’s easy to procrastinate too long and not achieve anything. I think I’m just aware of how addictive being online can be and doing my best to resist it, even if it seems futile.

It is interesting that, although your appropriation of magazines and posters shows an engagement with pop culture, it is has a decidedly retro focus. Do you feel a detachment from modern pop culture (reality TV/pop music etc.)?

I’ve found the idealistic imagery of the 1950’s compliments the modern day subjects I’m addressing. It’s kind of showing how the 50’s vision of the future went wrong.

You work by hand, and without the use of Photoshop or similar tools- however, your work is incredibly popular online. Do you find that what you do translates seamlessly onto the internet, or are there certain challenges that arise when something so hands-on goes into digital format?

I think the simplicity of the work translates well on a screen funnily enough. I try to keep a rule of only using a couple of different images in the pieces, which gives the work impact and makes it easy to see even as a thumbnail image.

Thirst - 2012

Thirst – 2012

You have described the way in which collage allows you to comment on social issues and human nature. What issues and themes are central to your work?

Just the usual cheery day to day stuff…global warming, consumerism, war, drought, famine, etc….It seems half the world is killing each other while the other half are watching singing competitions on TV, which I find an odd juxtaposition. My artwork is just my way of mirroring this. It’s not meant to preach or take a standard liberal leftist view…but just tries to present my interpretation of what’s going on out there.

Is there a pressure, in the current art world, to shock? How do outside pressures impact your work, if at all?

Is anyone still doing shock art? Who actually gets shocked anymore? Some tabloid journalists or people like that I guess. I’m not into doing shocking work just for the sake of it. Shock art is really 1990’s anyway.

Stirring Up A Storm - 2014, ©Joe Webb

Stirring Up A Storm – 2014

How do you see your artwork and your practice developing – or rather, evolving- over time?

I’m looking at ways of making the work larger, using silkscreening and painting with collage. The core of the work will always try to visually communicate ideas I think– I guess these evolve naturally and change as I work through different subjects.

What are you currently working on?

Lots of half finished collages which need finishing. And in my studio there’s a series of new paintings in progress. I’ve switched from oil to acrylic paint recently and have found this has made the paintings much more graphic looking. I’m looking forward to showing them, but holding off putting them online for now until my exhibitions with Hang Up Gallery and The Saatchi Gallery later in the year.

What is your FAULT?

Online way too much.

Joe Webb

Joe Webb

FAULT interviews Guns N’ Roses guitarist and virtuoso musician Bumblefoot

Lads and gents, please make a bit of space in your minds for the great, the talented Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal. If you’re a vet, you’ll probably be aware that ‘bumblefoot’ is some form of weird, little known animal infection. If you’re not, then you should know that Bumblefoot has been playing lead guitar for Guns n’ Roses since 2006; although when he’s not, he has a bit of time to kindly answer a few questions for his favourite magazine on Earth (FAULT). We caught up with Bumblefoot while he was in London for a masterclass for a quick interview and some exclusive live and backstage shots at the class, which quickly turned into a jam and then a full-on gig at London’s Caipirinha bar.

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FAULT: Your guitar playing is simply stunning. Who was your teacher?

Bumblefoot: Thank you! I started studying at age 7, taking one-on-one lessons for eight years from different teachers. The focus was reading, music theory, and I’d learn songs on the side.

 

Virtuosos, and you are one, are more often associated with classical and jazz. Why did you choose rock instead?

I grew up listening to rock, punk, this was the music that surrounded me, and what I most enjoyed and felt a connection to. I studied and listened to jazz and classical as well, but my interest was mostly in vocal rock music.

 

Honestly, what happened to rock music in the 90’s?

New branches grew on the tree. There was a up-and-coming generation of society that felt like the current trend of music wasn’t speaking on their behalf.

 

They say Cobain killed it…

Cobain did nothing more than make his music, it was the rest of the world that decided what would happen with it. But I don’t think in terms of ‘OR’, that’s how you miss out on half of what the world has to offer. It’s about ‘AND’. Did jazz kill blues? Did rock kill jazz? Did metal kill rock? Of course not. Decades don’t kill decades. We have all these styles of music that add soundtracks to moments in time, and they all have something valuable.

 

Do you agree that the world is becoming increasingly insensitive towards refined and/or elaborate music?

That music is the popular music from another time. Along with technology and social changes, the style of music that’s considered ‘popular’ changes. But there will always be a section of people to continue appreciating and connecting and supporting different genres of music. We hear this music every day in TV and film, the music is alive and well, and perhaps flourishing more than ever.

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Electro seems at the height of fashion at the moment (music sounding like bus doors opening in rhythm, in my opinion). Where do you stand on electronic music?

I’ve opened up to it more. I can’t learn and grow with a closed mind. If I don’t understand something, it’s because I can’t see in it what others do, and I need to broaden myself. I don’t have to like everything, but I at least try to find something I can potentially grow from.

 

Where has all the softness gone? (power-ballad forbidden area)

Everything is out there, just have to look for it…

 As a rock guitarist, how do you appreciate classical?

With my heart and my ears, just like any other person. 🙂 I’m a person first, rock guitarist second…

 

What is your favorite Opera?

I love Tchaikovsky, maybe more for the concertos than operas, but even as a kid my favorite opera was Carmen – it’s bouncy, fun and melodically unforgettable.

 

Has contemporary music ‘evolved’ into something better or is there an argument for going back to good old-fashioned, western classical music?

Better is a matter of anyone’s personal opinion. There’s good in both. The world can have both. Something for everyone…

 

 Say you have a night with your wife/best friends and have to choose between seeing a Tchaikovsky concert, or a performance of Carmen, on the one hand and an arena gig of Metallica on the other. Which one are you going for?

I’d probably choose the opera. I like seeing rock shows, and playing them, but when given the chance to do something different, that’s what I usually go for, something that breaks the pattern.

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Have you got anything to recommend to someone who hates guitars?

Drums.

 

How would you describe your style of playing?

I just play how I feel and do what’s natural. If I start to analyse, it’ll get in the way of things….

 

 To finish with, do you have any guilty pleasures? I mean, what is your FAULT?

I love 60s/70s ‘lounge’ music – Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck… and horror movies, strange movies, “B” movies. I enjoy insanely spicy food, and have a line of hot sauces. But to be honest, I feel no guilt about these pleasures, I like quirkiness, it’s part of what makes everyone special!

 

Honestly, Bumblefoot, you’re pretty much like Santa Claus: You have that long beard, you’re full of gifts, and everyone loves you. Thanks so much for your time!

www.bumblefoot.com
www.twitter.com/bumblefoot
www.facebook.com/bumblefoot
www.youtube.com/bumblefoot
www.instagram.com/bumblefoot

 

Interview by François Mauld d’Aymée
Images by Lill-Veronica Skoglund

Artist Giuliano Bekor for FAULT Focus in Issue 13

giuliano bekor inside 1

LA based photographic artist Giuliano Bekor for FAULT Issue 13

 

Bekor has developed an oeuvre that poignantly demonstrates what many consider to be the primary requirement of being an artist – namely the act of creation. In addition to the skill required to capture the perfect moment, Bekor uses the camera as his implement to capture his world. It is a method that flies in the face of established photography, insofar as it practically contradicts the original purpose of the camera itself. Rather than skilfully reproducing reality – or the essence of reality – in a photo, Bekor actually creates his own version of a reality to be held within his imagery….

giuliano bekor inside 2

All artwork by Giuliano Bekor

Read more in FAULT Issue 13, out now:

FAULT MAGAZINE ISSUE 13 (WINTER 2012-13) – THE CONTRASTS ISSUE – IS  NOW AVAILABLE TO ORDER

…Or get your copy digitally via Zinio! 1 year’s subscription = just £12. Get your single issue digitally this January for just £6