CulturePainting Pictures

Painting Pictures

Max Corbett is an artist who shares my love for Adele. Rumour has it that tables are turning for the 22 year old, with three upcoming exhibitions on island this year. Max appears to be saying hello to hometown glory, making any pavements previously chased seem like water under the bridge. He’s a part-time painter, part-time warehouse worker, who recently graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in Fine Art and Design. The combination of these two disciplines has allowed him to set fire to the rain by mixing photorealism with abstract colour palettes. His pieces are so bright that you could probably still love them in the dark, evoking responses such as ‘oh my God’ and ‘can I get it?’

When I asked Max why he began his artistic journey with photorealism, he said it’s because he’s always been good at “replicating stuff”. It was a habit he was forced to break at university, when he was taught by professors who favoured abstract work. Whilst he did not elaborate on what these experiments were, I’m sure he spent plenty of time trying to write something deep and meaningful about them. When I was at university I witnessed my friend splash a few blue blobs on a piece of paper and pass it off as a metaphor for rising sea levels. The piece (which had taken her all of ten minutes at pre-drinks) brought her a 1:1 alongside a crushing disillusionment with her degree. I comforted her with the fact that none of my English professors taught Shakespeare, and we drowned our dreams of cultural sophistication in the cheapest wine at Wetherspoons.

I haven’t got anything against abstract work. Some of my favourite paintings fall within this category. I can even understand Dada, once you look past the urinal and understand how it ended up in an art gallery. This is something that Max also understands, having been exposed to a wide variety of art at university. Whilst he did admit that the technical aspect was lacking – “I could go and get a urinal from lib toilets and put it in a gallery” – his mind has been opened to “appreciate the art world everywhere”. In his first year of university, he would have said Dada was ridiculous, but after learning about the context behind it, he understood why it was interesting. He commented that art is art because there is something “intangibly valuable” about it. If you’re vibing with the urinal… I guess it’s okay?

Whilst I love talking to men in their twenties about urinals, why (pray tell) did we bang on about them for so long? The reason is because it led to the type of work Max does now. Whilst human waste disposal units are strikingly absent from his work, the freedom that came with exploring different styles of art birthed a photorealism that experiments with abstract colour palettes. Max uses bright (or fluorescent) contrasting colours as a base for his portraits. “Randomly smashing some colours onto a canvas” allows him to have “way more fun” and opens doors for “exciting mistakes”. He told me that “a good painting is more free… you express yourself more as opposed to just being a printer and copying something pixel for pixel”. He believes that leaving your own mark on a canvas is just as important as recreating the original scene that inspired it.

How Max picks what to paint fascinates me, because it’s rooted in his subconscious. He sees something he loves, doesn’t really think why, and just starts working on it. He admitted that he is often frustrated because he sees so much that he loves and he doesn’t have the time to paint all of it. Maybe we should all start crowdfunding Max so that he can quit his warehouse job and start painting full-time. I love his portraits, and he loves painting them, because he’s curious about people and the different ways we interpret each other. In the painting below, Max sees a chilled out man in his twenties chilling out in the sun by a skate park. Another woman saw a much older man a bit weary from work and trying to catch a break. Photorealism gets a bit of stick for being a slightly rigid style of art that might as well be a photograph. Max’s work shows that this art form can be fluid through the varying interpretations viewers have of a subject.

Whilst all of his work draws attention, Max’s Hong Kong piece appears to be everyone’s favourite. It’s in the finals of CCA Galleries’ Jersey Summer Exhibition, and has been admired on social media by an audience three times the size of Jersey. Max himself said it was his “pride piece”, and one he’s been hiding away in his room out of reluctance to sell. If you want to see it in person (before Max takes it off the scene forever) you can head to CCA between June 28th – July 26th. To see any of his other work, you can visit the Ian Roll’s Exhibition down at the Waterfront (13th July – 3rd August), or the barracks at Greve De Lecq on 16-17th November. I promise it’s worth the visit – even Adele would struggle to find someone like Max.


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