For three years, Max Wade has been working on large-scale abstract paintings and woodcuts. Dedicated to his beloved Jack Russell, Tina, who sadly passed away last year, the show features work inspired from everyday sketches, abstracted to the point of near-recognisability.
Roxie Warder: Although I’ve been familiar with your work for years, I was blown away when I first came and did a studio visit last year, your work seemed to have turned a corner - what had influenced this new chapter in your work?
Max Wade: The beginning of 2018 really felt like a new chapter for my practice. For years I had been sharing a painting studio and in January had just moved into a new 400 square foot studio just to myself above then venue ‘Styx’ in Tottenham Hale.
The move from my old studio in Dalston was a shock. I went from being above the vibrant, joyful and pumping fruit and veg market on Ridley road to a cold and soulless retail park with main view onto the A1055 (main road to IKEA), although it didn’t take long the become accustom and thrive from the isolation on offer and a space to dedicate myself to my work.
I had been drawing regularly in sketchbooks a lot more and keeping a visual diary, which fed a huge amount into new work, drawing with paint and rooting the work back to experiences, which I feel fed a great deal into the new work.
RW: How important is the process part in producing your work, and how does this start?
MW: Canvases develop over months into years, rooted from sketchbook drawings they morph and abstract into new layers of paint with hues butting against one another like conversations being interrupted. Subtraction and erasing is a big part, sometimes wiping out whole areas and re-drawing – almost like when you turn from one page of the sketchbook to another you see the different scenes from a daily life like a flip book, only I paint one over the top of another layering and semi deleting previous scenes.
The process and way of making the paintings makes them look as they do, thick and layered oil paint on canvas. This process is a hard struggle and a fight but necessary.
RW: There is a lot of editing in and out with your paintings, some over many years - what informs you that a piece is finished?
MW: Old layers, shapes and forms from the thick oil show through and that’s when I find it exciting to see previously unknown forms creating new shapes and informing the composition
– At this point the physical act of pushing and smearing paint around the canvas takes over. I work very quickly, drawing with colour, and after a while, slowly, everything starts to sit still on the canvas and nothing jumps out as out of place – all elements somehow work together and take you by surprise.
RW: There’s a beautiful pairing of your paintings with your woodcuts, did you start with printing or painting originally?
MW: It’s a great pairing and yet very different discipline between making paintings and woodcuts. Painting is so immediate; eye to heart to hand to canvas whereas woodcuts take so much physical motor time in the carving and printing, especially as mine are all hard done without a press.
I like to use both processes to help inform one another on the best step forward for a piece. Sometimes I work carve a woodcut based on a painting that may not be finished and other times scale up canvases from my prints – I see them both as ways of working through new ideas.
RW: What do you feel has shaped you and your artwork up to this point? Is there anyway you want your work to develop more, any upcoming exhibitions or plans?
MW: I feel living in London and travelling with constant access to exhibitions, gigs, theatre and the city is a huge influence. Travel and drawing are so crucial. I think more time drawing and looking will be the next immediate move before getting into the studio and excited about a future project later this year with Sid Motion gallery in Bermondsey.