Monsters, mutants and mirrors: The surreal paintings of Montreal's Max Wyse
Max Wyse has gone through the looking glass, and he's taken his paints with him
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Mutant rats? Eyeballs with nipples? People-eating disembodied mouths?
Yeah, hopefully not.
But mirrors are everywhere in the art of Max Wyse, or at least the idea of them. His paintings, which he creates on Plexiglas, are kaleidoscopes of reflected and repeated details, prismatic colours, fragmented shapes. It's as though the B.C.-raised painter has gone through the looking glass and he's taken his acrylics with him, and until December 19, Wyse's vividly surreal worlds — inspired by the imagery of the 1970s, the era of disco balls and mirrored ceilings — appear in an exhibition at Montreal's Yves Laroche gallery.
It's called Midnight Fondue, and here, Wyse reflects on the show in his own words.
Through the looking (plexi)glas…
"I began painting on Plexiglas in 1998. I had been doing reverse drawings on Mylar and a friend suggested that I try Plexiglas. I started looking at backwards glass paintings from eastern Europe and India, folk art depicting village life and religious motifs. That started my experiments with Plexiglas, which is better to paint on, as acrylic paint binds really well to it. It's also much less fragile than glass. I keep doing it because I keep finding new ways to work with it and quite frankly, I've never done paintings on canvas."
Midnight Fondue, anyone?
"I came upon the title 'Midnight Fondue' while leafing through a stack of 1970s interior decoration magazines that I procured at a garage sale. The atmosphere of the '70s, from psychedelic poster art to the garish clothing and furniture, is something that informs my choices of imagery and palette."
What's it all about?
"The exhibition isn't about anything really. I'm interested in the immediacy and surprise of the uncanny, images that catch you off guard without explaining themselves, that are unsettling yet funny."
The French connection
"All of these works were completed in my studio, which is a large double room in my apartment in Montreal. These are the last works to be created here, as I'm moving to Perpignan, France in January. So far, places inform my work through the objects and images that I find there. My future home is starting to seep into my work in the form of palm trees and weird beach scenes!"
The newest thing in his sketchbook
"I haven't been actively working in sketchbooks for a little while now. In 2012, I began experimenting with smartphone applications to produce digital collages. I've really kept at it and now work at it obsessively, as I used to in my sketchbooks. It has influenced the way I make paintings, as I've found new tools to bend and manipulate imagery on the screen to serve as models for drawings."
Visit Max Wyse's website to see more of his work.
Max Wyse, Midnight Fondue. To Dec 19 at Yves Laroche Galerie D'Art, 6355 Boul St-Laurent, Montreal. Tue-Fri, 11-7, Sat, 11-5, Mon by appointment.