Maximilian Magnus is an artist who lives in Berlin. I stumbled upon his website http://www.maximilianmagnus.com/ and felt that I had to chat with him about his paintings which are poignant and ethereal. We ended up chatting about many things including the fact the he wants to “move the world” by operating an art academy …
“… If I am able to be a child during the time painting, the expression of the work leaves a stronger impression than the intellect of “grown-ups” can give us ...”
MICHAEL: Hello Maximilian, First of all, I love your name. It sounds very regal yet hip and edgy at the same time just like your work. When I look at your paintings, I get the feeling that I'm looking at faint illusions and dreams. Your work looks like it's coming from a dream-like state of mind. Is this how you see your work?
MAXIMILIAN: Since my works start inside of me with emotions rather than clear images, it's kind of that, yes. Besides my paintings, I as an artist have a clear vision of our future in terms of the overall awareness that I am focusing on.
Maybe this is something for the next question, but here is what I think. I personally as an artist feel responsible for what will happen in the world rather than what has happened. I am working on videos and I want to inspire people from all over the world to see the world as one and treat it as that.
If one takes 100% responsibility for their behavior, actions and thoughts and is fully aware of their power and impact, there will be a greater and more sensitive and careful vision and movement happening that has the power to really make a difference in the world.
Step by step and with time. We should care about the world long after we are gone. I believe that this will make us humble, but also brave enough to take each step very carefully but also fully powerful.
MICHAEL: Max, I cannot believe what you've just said. If we take 100% responsibility? Are you Yoda? Nobody ever says that. Everybody blames everybody else for things in the world. Can your art really address this? This is such a heavy topic, but I'm glad you mentioned it and right at the beginning!
MAXIMILIAN: Yes, that is what I am saying and I strongly believe in. If you realize the power in taking responsibility you will entirely stop blaming.
I can only blame me no matter what and that is not such a huge thing. I actually think it is very simple and makes life fantastically easy for myself. My paintings are maybe not telling you this right in your face, but what I feel and think is in them, so yes, my art addresses that then.
MICHAEL: Yes, it is a big thing because if everyone took some blame, we might actually see positive change in the world. Anyway, so when you are painting, what are you thinking? Are you thinking about the painting or something else? Is your mind empty while you're painting? Are you just feeling things?
MAXIMILIAN: The best case is if I don't think while I am working, but instead let myself fall into emotions that arise or simply come because they had to be released and let them carry me through the process. This sometimes even turns out to be a healing process for whatever reason that made me create the work. Some even see their own path or inner conflict (in the work) which takes them on their own journey.
If I am able to be a child during the time painting, the expression of the work leaves a stronger impression than the intellect of “grown-ups” can give us.
Well thought out and constructed lines or images in general may explain a story while a brushstroke or an impulse will suck in the audience into the work or maybe even push them away. Some can't explain why they like what they receive, but simply enjoy the fact that they do. Both are great.
MICHAEL: Your paintings seem very BIG. I love big paintings. Why do you create big paintings?
MAXIMILIAN: I was trained as a set painter and worked on paintings up to 3000 square feet and I guess I never was good at doing small paintings. Working on a canvas that is bigger than you somehow takes over control and helps me to let go. It's like a young boy in the arms of a passionate, grown woman who will take his hand and body and lead him through the act.
MICHAEL: And so, when you are creating, what's making you do it? Where do you think you talent comes from? What's inspiring you?
MAXIMILIAN: The talent? There are always better ones. The power is in the making and the constant. The inspiration is in the now, here, there, in you and in me.
MICHAEL: Do you come from an artistic family? What's your first memory of art? How did art begin for you?
MAXIMILIAN: Yes I do … starting with my great, great grandparents. When I was a little boy, I could always smell the clay my mom was using to do pottery and to sculpt voluminous naked women - and visiting my father at his studio where he produced sets for international theater and opera productions was a daily routine. My sister is an actress and so I guess I had no choice even though I did not think about doing art at all until I was twenty. Well, that's not entirely true, I was dancing ballet for six years when I was younger and loved it. I neither saw art nor spirituality as something special, I grew up in it.
MICHAEL: Apart from the physical part, is there a connection for you between dancing and painting or making video art? Do they come from the same creative place in you? How does it work?
MAXIMILIAN: I don't know where it comes from right now, but yesterday I did and tomorrow I might know it again. But one thing is pretty clear, it is all the same. It doesn't matter if I shape a tree, paint a painting or perform. I know it is art when I feel it along the way. It’s something hard to describe, but a must for creating a great work.
MICHAEL: What do you think about the contemporary art world and art market and how they function? Do you feel like you're part of all of that? How do they work for you?
MAXIMILIAN: To be honest, I don't think about it that much. If you look close enough you might regret it - plus it really is a big game at the end of the day. I personally have a ritual I am practicing every time I sell a work. I take some of the money and ask another artist that I like and want to support what I can get for it.
The only business partner I have is the universe I guess. In that case, I can't even be disappointed by someone who screws me over. It's part of the learning process then.
MICHAEL: What do you think is the purpose of art? Most people don't buy art, so what's the point?
MAXIMILIAN: If the purpose of art would be buying it - art would not exist. I know for many art is something elitist, but for me art comes with responsibility. I would feel ashamed to only make art for myself. I always have a gentle urge to give back in one way or the other.
Through my school, the “Children Arts Academy,” through buying other art, through appreciating street musicians with buying their CDs and other actions - that’s where buying makes sense.
MICHAEL: You have a children's art academy? What's it called? Did you start it? Where is it? How many kids are there? What's the purpose? Does it cost a lot of money to operate?
MAXIMILIAN: Yes, it’s my baby for over 12 years. I founded the “Children Arts Academy” which is part of www.kulturegg.com, with my mom, sister and a very dear friend.
MAXIMILIAN: At the academy, we teach acting, dancing, painting, singing, and yoga. I am about to buy a place for the kids to play. It actually is the place my father already built 20 years ago, but then lost the place to a financial institution. It is part of my vision of “Move the World.”
I’m creating a place where children and grown-ups can free themselves and learn about art, culture and life, but most importantly, about a new way of living more consciously through art. That’s why I said for me, art comes with a lot of responsibility.
Right now, we are looking for the right people to be part of this inspiring project, to support it and make a little step towards a big change.
MICHAEL: That’s fantastic. And so, what’s the purpose of your art and where does it come from?
MAXIMILIAN: Art comes from the inside. Me as an artist, I have the longing to bring out what is inside. Not to show what I can do, but to let free what there is. I am using my hands as a tool for that - better said - my body because I am just a tool of the entire process. Sometimes words. And sometimes it is just holding it in for as many days and weeks as possible until it breaks out and I have no control of it at all. These are the best works because there are not too many thoughts or ego involved. It simply is and therefore is strong.
MICHAEL: Thanks Max. Very cool chat. Best wishes.
Check out Maximilian Magnus at http://www.maximilianmagnus.com/.