My work is a form of primitive visionary abstraction within a contemporary technological and art historical perspective. In “digital hybrid paintings”, visceral layers of natural materials, Photoshop imagery and photography are combined into large scale abstract compositions.
The work is an inter-media exploration of subjective brain states experienced in meditation, trance and dreaming. Within such states, an internal visual landscape arises from the complex interaction of organic and geometric patterns of light. These patterns are seen within the dreaming mind or behind the eyelids as consciousness shifts through different frequencies of brain waves. At deeper levels of brainwave activity more complex imagery emerges from the patterns of light. As consciousness interprets this visual information and attempts to filter it for meaning, shapes and figures begin to emerge from the raw physical data.
The layers of abstract pattern that serve as a ground for my paintings relate to these concrete neurological events happening within the brain and body. As the painting evolves, more sophisticated patterns and figures are seen within the ground and rendered in paint and natural materials. The painting process mirrors the mechanics of dreaming. It is a visualization of the process by which consciousness creates order and content in response to neurological phenomena.
The emergent shapes and figures in the work often take on an iconic, mythological character drawn from a hybrid culture of the present that includes global perspectives as well as Western neuroscience and physics. The quasi mythological content opens a conversation about the psychological roots of mythology, revealing new content and cultural narrative.
Abstract painting offers a vehicle for the examination of these neurological events and related states of consciousness. From Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art through Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism there is a tradition of investigation into brain states, the unconscious mind and body consciousness that resulted in abstraction in modern art. I’m interested in extending and re-contextualizing that tradition to include non-western and indigenous cultural perspectives as well as a more current scientific framework within my artistic practice.
- Michael Maxwell -