About the work...
a self portrait, 96 x 84 inches
"Utilizing sources from the Internet, photographs from my own life, art historical references, multiple other resources and intuitive decision making when painting, I reflect upon the relationship between fact and fiction as well as past and present. Within reconstructed histories and mythologized experiences, the forged connections that play between remembering and invention act as considerations of the nature of reality, power and identity. In the end the paintings are the remnants and evidence of the cognitive, problem-solving nature of painting and the human experience, or at least mine…"
My paintings, which I am in a constant, ever-evolving and changing dialogue with (being overpainted again and again), are an attempt to seek answers to questions that motivate my researchs - be it from popular culture, models of modernism & art history, existential crises and the romantic urge (or at least a concern with my own mortality), the relationships and drives in my life - whatever. What counts is the questions themselves and finding suitable responses, via the act of painting, which most often seem to be less answers than more questions, hence the need to make another painting.... :-)
The current work of Max Presneill explores the notion of the Self and its relationship to others, memory, the political, shared cultural histories and the generation of meaning. By sourcing from areas of Presneill's own past, his personal obsessions and culturally shared phenomena and histories, the paintings seek to address issues of attention, interpretation, facticity, the politics of representation and the generation of meaning.
The narrative elements allude to situations, both specific and general, factual and imagined, that also place the importance of the act of painting within a set of existential, self-affirmed constructions of reality and value. Isolated, de-contextualized or reconfigured, they singularly float in a river of uncertainty, like our own reflection in a mirror, somewhat familiar but not quite our ‘self’, what is seen differing from what is felt. The hermetic subjective experience and shared cultural expressions constantly oscillate between understanding and illegibility, with a sense of melancholic loss and moments of celebration. They exist within the gaps between things as both personal story and political metaphor.
Alongside imagery taken from personal photographs the faceted areas which sometimes surround the narrative subjects recall the Holtzman Shield's from David Lynch's film version the the Frank Herbert novel, Dune, and more recently some increasingly abstract paintings have been concentrating on the shield itself rather than the contained characters. While an acknowledgement of the relationship to early forms of cubism is obvious it should be read as a reference only, not an explicit one. The shifting, fluid nature implied by these angular planes attests rather to the similar role of personality, of meaning and of belief, all as transient and unstable, unknowable in the full - only at partial points (like shards of a broken mirror), and that they also function as rudimentary pixels of a simplified and smaller digitized persona in the Internet Age. Other commonly occurring motifs are derived from the film Bladerunner and its Replicants, Greek (particularly the Minotaur and the Sphinx) and Norse mythology (Odin's Ravens). Reference points from skateboarding, comics and tv, particularly of the 1970's, also reappear with regularity.
Presneill has often shown his smaller paintings in groupings referred to as 'the cloud'. This 'cloud' contains multiple canvases that act, by the location of their installation and in reference to each other and the sequence of their placement, as extended narratives that are inclusive of source materials taken from autobiographical sources, the Internet, literature and the history of art, amongst other places. They exist in a fluid interchangeable relationship that allows them to be renewed with each showing, to have some removed and some replaced, with no set number of pieces and no continuous 'members' within the grouping - in line with changing focal points of interest to the artist, to establish new ways of reading the material thus reflecting ongoing concerns and engagements.