Maximilian Wiedemann – ‘Obsession Of Society’ at COYA Mayfair

Maximilian Wiedemann is, by his own admission, a graffiti artist for internal walls. The founder of Imitate Modern Gallery and former advertising strategist has an eye for bold, imposing imagery that strikes a chord with the Instagram generation. Is his work cynical? To some, perhaps, but it’s hard to argue with Wiedemann that even a basic grasp (or even exposure to) advertising gives tremendous insight into how society – in a truly global sense – is being warped and seduced by brand culture and raw materialism.

It’s Wiedemann’s position that art – even while using the same consumer tactics to attracting more attention, likes, shares and purchases – can be the antidote to that simply by forcing people to confront the fact actively, as opposed to being passively complicit.

After interviewing him back in 2016 ahead of his collaboration with Collier Bristow, we had the pleasure of speaking to Max at the launch of his latest London exhibition – ‘Obsession of Society‘ –  at COYA Mayfair about the intersection of contemporary art and advertising, his approach to juggling creativity and consumerism, and his wider thoughts on the artistic community.

 

Maximilian Wiedemann

 

FAULT: How does your background in advertising influence your work? 

Maximilian Wiedemann: Advertising was my education. My idea was to take the false seduction that revolves around advertising and turn it into art. The art of seduction. Advertising gave us the opportunity to find the key to address materialism and address status in Society via brand culture. Drip until you drop. Full stop.

I got into this by coincidence. Philosophy writes. Art draws. It’s up to each one to read the signs. My signs are in the walls. I love life and would like to inspire every one who is working on a canvas right now. Just move the muscle. Eventually dreams are reality. Just keep painting. Just keep going on.

 

Your work draws on a range of sources – inspired by your international upbringing. In a world that seems to be hurtling towards the enforcement of borders and nationalism, what message does your work carry in terms of internationalism and globalisation?

Maximilian Wiedemann: My source is Biggie Smalls.

 

What was your breakthrough moment as an artist?

Maximilian Wiedemann: VH 1 / MTV Divas campaign, 2009. It was the moment when I quit my job, in a bar with my boss. I had a job as new business strategy director in a boutique agency in London . Elle Macpherson had just commissioned me to her campaign and I had to call a status meeting with my boss. He said, “Be good at one thing in you life. New business for branding agencies or art.” I quit. But I choose both. In essence, I am new business. Art-vertising.

Maximilian Wiedemann

 

 

What do you consider ‘beauty’ to be?

Maximilian Wiedemann: Nice one. I would rather marry my soul mate than beauty. Beauty is replaceable. Souls are not…

Wait – what was the question again? I think life is the biggest gift. The ‘wake up in the morning and be able to perform’. To wake up and follow your mission. Heath is key to perform. So watch your ‘Bildzeitung’ and your body.

 

Your work seems very much a comment on commodity culture – how does this square with your own position within the art market?

Maximilian Wiedemann: What you buy to is who you are.

 

How do you see the art world evolving in the next decade?

Maximilian Wiedemann: Money makes the market. The big players evolve. I do think it’s all fucked, as my messages are so relevant. I’m just in this business to have fun and communicate current zeitgeist messages.

 

Your work seems to make much reference to online culture, where images are both widely available and widely spread. How does this generation, and the connectedness of the internet, influence your work?

Maximilian Wiedemann: My art aims to connect irony and sustainability. I have no connection.

 

Maximilian Wiedemann

 

If you had to give advice to young artists, what would it be?

Maximilian Wiedemann: Paint!! Move the muscle!!! It will all evolve. The main key is movement!

 

How would you like to be remembered?

Maximilian Wiedemann: If I am worth it.

 

Do you consider your work cynical or optimistic? 

Maximilian Wiedemann: It’s real. Relevant. It’s just a brutal reflection on how messed up society is right now. I don’t have to explain that. Just look at what works on Instagram.

~

COYA Collective

Enhancing each individual gastronomic experience is the COYA Collective – a schedule of diverse genres of artistic and cultural expressions, setting the rhythm for an unmistakably Latin American ambience. COYA Mayfair honours both traditional and contemporary cultural offerings, ensuring that the heart of Latin American culture is experienced throughout the venue. In addition to the vivacious music scene, COYA Mayfair also showcases a variety of established and upcoming photographers, artists, illustrators, sculptors and immerging talent alike with year-round hosted events. 

 The COYA Collective is a signature movement that defines COYA’s ethos and beliefs. It has pushed against tradition to create a multi-dimensional platform for guests to not only dine but feel the entire experience with all the senses. Combining the elements of vibrant live music, home to a showcase of compelling art and an array of the city’s most colourful festivities, the COYA Collective creates an altruistic, cultural experience uniquely COYA. 

Each COYA property has the opportunity to welcome various artists to adorn the walls of the COYA Members’ Club and in some cases, the restaurant and Pisco Bar & Lounge with each special exhibition lasting 6-8 weeks. The singular relationship that all global COYA properties have with each artist is special. The COYA properties curate and build their own very special collection through the memento pieces left behind by each artist as a gifted symbol. 

~

For more of Max’s work, visit his page on Imitate Modern

To see more of COYA’s exclusive art launches, visit their website

FAULT Focus: Ewa Wilczynski’s ‘THROES’, The Royal Academy of Arts

 

Stood amidst an enchanted crowd and the dramatic grandeur of the Senate Rooms at the Royal Academy of Arts, with her large-scale paintings on the walls and metallic couture by Inbar Spector cascading around her, FAULT Favourite Ewa Wilczynski made a creative declaration that she is truly one to watch.

'Ewa' (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd for FAULT Magazine

‘Ewa’ (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd for FAULT Magazine

As Wilczynski’s debut solo exhibition, THROES marks only three years since the artist graduated in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins (by way of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.) As a document of how her artistic practice has taken shape, the idea of transition was central to the exhibition. The title itself – taken from one of the most striking works in the show – conjures ideas of being in-between emotional and physical states, with an undercurrent of violent intensity that permeates the dramatic power of the paintings. Rendered in thick oil, and in shades of violet, red, black and blue, Wilczynski’s works depict phantasmagorical landscapes where disembodied figures turn in circles around each other, recognisable as self-portraits but with a Surrealist gesture that dislocates them from the real world.

“I think of it as a collaboration; I paint my personal myth and you, the spectator, fuse your own personal world to it. The paintings become this thin place in between where the two worlds collide and internal polarity comes to the surface.

 

The paintings are a membrane-that skin between my world and your world.”

'Ewa' (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd for FAULT Magazine

‘Ewa’ (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd for FAULT Magazine

The real world is something that Wilczynski shows little interest in, and her work speaks to a mysticism and personal mythology that she frames in terms of philosophy and psychoanalysis. The work in THROES was influenced by Jacques Derrida’s ‘Hymen’ theory; centred on the interplay of inside/outside, the work becomes an intersection and membrane between the artist and spectator, with the painting (the hymen) as a sort of skin.

This blurring of boundaries in the work lends a certain vulnerability to its exhibition and existence in the gallery space. The scale and intensity of the paintings is almost overwhelming, not only for the viewer but for the diminutive physical stature of Wilczynski herself. Standing against her own canvases, the collisions of figures and thunderous elements tower above her, looming over her shoulders. At THROES, the high-ceilinged rooms of the Royal Academy were heavily scented with lavender, making reference to historical exhibitions of the Sublime, and one display cabinet consciously echoed the format of the Wunderkammer in Renaissance Europe. Combined with the grandeur and decorative interior of the Senate Rooms, and the chanting beat of an electronic paean devised and DJ’d by Alexander Price, the exhibition again challenged our modern standard for white-walled exhibition display.

“all of us have our own little worlds and our personal myths … within my work, the painting is almost a way to encapsulate that, and close that gap.”

'Ewa' (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd for FAULT Magazine

‘Ewa’ (2015), by Kurtiss Lloyd for FAULT Magazine

Ewa has said that her next body of paintings will be different in aesthetic, and THROES is the supreme example of just how quickly styles and motifs emerge across her work. She has shown that her creativity and imagination are remarkably intense, matching her determination and work ethic (in recent months she has also collaborated on projects with Lulu Guinness and spent time with David LaChapelle in Los Angeles.) Having drawn so much attention and praise for THROES, we know we are not the only ones waiting with bated breath for her next offering.

 

www.ewawilczynski.co.uk

All photographs by Kurtiss Lloyd

New Tyler Shields series ‘Indulgence’, starring Ana Mulvoy Ten, to be showcased at London’s Imitate Modern Gallery

'Gator Birkin II' Tyler Shields

‘Gator Birkin II’ Tyler Shields

Gallery space Intimate Modern has announced the latest collection from controversial photographer Tyler Shields, entitled ‘Indulgence’. The series stars Hollywood starlet Ana Mulvoy Ten. The series is the latest in Shields’ provocative play with Hollywood luxury and high-fashion, with Hermès-labelled milk and cigarettes, Louis Vuitton champagne and Prada popcorn. The ‘masterpiece’, as it were, involves the beautiful Mulvoy Ten playing tug of war with an alligator over a Hermes Birkin Bag, worth around $100,000.

The collection will be exhibited from Thursday 22nd May – but you can check out some of the shots from the series – as well as the preview video of Ana Mulvoy Ten grappling with the ‘gator – below:

 

'Prada Popcorn' Tyler Shields

‘Prada Popcorn’ Tyler Shields

 'Hermes Cigarettes' Tyler Shields

‘Hermes Cigarettes’ Tyler Shields

 'Birkin Tug of War' Tyler Shields

‘Birkin Tug of War’ Tyler Shields

 'Hermes Milk' Tyler Shields

‘Hermes Milk’ Tyler Shields

More images can be see on the Intimate Modern blog.

 

All images courtesy of Intimate Modern; text by Will Ballantyne-Reid

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

NYFW (Sept ’13) Review: Christian Siriano SS’14 show

Isla Mujeres (the Island of Women), next to the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico, was the main inspiration for Christian Siriano to design his latest SS ’14 collection. This was, without a doubt,  a contemporary representation of – and fashion-orientated reflection on –  authentic Mexican culture, so admired for its vibrant style amongst women worldwide.

CS SS14 Runway 1

The color palette evoked the vivid tropical weather of the Central American country, something also emphasized by the props behind the catwalk: the prominent beach-style huts creating an image of a truly bright summer. On the runway itself, Siriano included an abundance of handmade textiles, including raffia and soft organzas in sand tones. The collection also featured prints of the dahlia flower, creating a recurring pattern that conjured up Mexico’s intense  and colorful flora.

CS SS14 Runway 10

Model and The Misshapes’ DJ Leigh Lezark and actresses Selma Blair and Lindsey Gort were sitting at the front row to appreciate the colourful Latin spectacle.

 

 

Words: Anaïs Serrano
Runway: Jay Marroquin
Behind the scenes/Front row: Nenaji Agbolabori