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January 29, 2021

TIM MAXWELL-ORDER AND CHAOS: WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DICHOTOMY

By itchysilk In THE ITCH

Tim Maxwell and his hand drawn pieces suggest someone with some savant like artistic abilities. His geometrically ordered yet untamed and spontaneous pieces creating an unsettling but car crash like addictive surreal dichotomy. Certainly hits the #itchysilk criteria. Perhaps this ordered beautiful chaos is a product of a life filled (initially) with some degrees of disappointment and a lack of direction.

Born and raised in “normal and idyllic middle class life in suburban New Jersey”. It is telling that as a child he states, “I can only remember collecting baseball cards and playing baseball obsessively. Any sport I would play obsessively.  I remember when I was eight, I tried to hit ten free throws in a row with a nerf basketball.  This took me about ten hours. This obsessiveness probably played an integral part in my art practice”.

Indeed, his intricate and amazing drawings are an obvious outlet for that ‘obsessive’ streak.

I was very much a Salvador Dali head; obsessed with his vision, creativity, and eccentricity.

We note from your bio that you gained a qualification in 2002 so please tell us about the choice to delve into art-what was the eventual catalyst?

The eventual catalyst for immersing myself in art is twofold. First catalyst, I was failing out of school. I was doing horribly in my first major, Kinesiology, and even worse in my second major, Business Management. I recall having a .47 GPA one semester. My parents did not find this amusing.  

I then became an Art major which brings me to my second and most profound catalyst. I got my first tattoo of a Celtic knot work design on my left shoulder. This experience made such an impression on me it changed my world.  I started drawing tattoo designs obsessively for my next tattoo. And, even more feverishly for my third. I was 19 at this point and convinced I would become a tattoo artist.  And that is exactly what I became, albeit, not for long-mainly tattooing friends and myself.  

I threw myself into the arts completely.  I was a blank slate and naïve, so I thought everything I was doing has never been done before.luseDI was the prodigal son, well, I was delusional, but nonetheless, these events led to my devotion to art, and specifically drawing.

New York is synonymous with pushing artistic boundaries and renowned names- tell us about the draw to New York and the impact it had on the art that has interested you (if indeed there is a connect)?

My move to NYC was a very gratuitous event which was the result of my failure to get into every other graduate school I applied to. I was rejected from Pratt, UCLA, and Yale. Then finally my last vestige of hope, I got a call from The School Of Visual Arts in NYC. I was expecting the worst and preparing myself to live in Pennsylvania my whole life. Alas, it was an acceptance call. I fucking got in. NYC accepted me, in my mind.

In five months, I would be packing my bags and driving into the city, (clueless mind you), but hellbent on being able to continue my habit of making art and getting my Master’s degree in the process. So, other than being accepted to the MFA program in NYC, there is no direct correlation, other than survival and continuing my addiction, or passion, or whatever you would like to call it.

Can you point to names or eras which shape the work you create?

I can list the names of visual artists and works that first influenced my style. I was very much a Salvador Dali head; obsessed with his vision, creativity, and eccentricity. This led me to Hieronymus Bosch and his Garden Of Earthly Delights (1490-1510), Francisco Goya’s Black Paintings (1819-1823), Albrecht Dürer’s Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (1492–1502) and Melancholia (1514), Gustave Doré’s illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy (1832-1883), Pieter Bruegel The Elder and his Tower Of Babel (1563) and The Book of Kells (9th Century). Later, I became interested in art theory and my taste became much more eclectic and somewhat esoteric in relation to my own work. The connection between my work and Donald Judd (1928-1994) and Minimalism becomes another question and a leap of imagination.

How much of your work is spontaneous and governed by your emotional spectrum at the time?

My process, with my current geometric work, is one part extremely banal, rigid, austere, and repetitive. And the other part, impulsive, loose, liberating, and imaginative. My work is spontaneous in that the process of drawing lines is dictated by the complete and utter lack of reason. I do not use rulers to make these lines, so I rely on muscle memory and trust. It is complete faith in the process.

I think this dichotomy between the ordered and untamed reflects my own temperament. There is an innate desire to tame the wild so as not to spin out of control.

Discuss themes in your prior works. In some we have seen works akin to Greek mythology in other works there is a sense of being caught/drawn into surreal worlds.

The themes in my older work were mainly the result of the artist’s I mentioned before. An almost insane amount of verisimilitude in emulating these artists. The themes of Gods, mythology and metaphysics seem to come quite naturally as I never saw myself as a political or an activist. I always make art that in my mind does not necessarily reflect the moment in time rather, a sense of timelessness.

Tell us about the choice of tools for your images as in the main (from what we have seen) you use a pen to create your works-indeed is that simplicity in what you use key to how you want to create your work?

Yeah, I am an ink monster, and a fountain pen nerd, so this is the language I am most fluent in. Using fountain pens, ink and drawing is home and something eternal, temporal, and visceral.

In one aspect seems uniformed and geometrically governed but then in another breath seems challenging and untamed.

I think this dichotomy between the ordered and untamed reflects my own temperament. There is an innate desire to tame the wild so as not to spin out of control. In my case, I must do the inverse, and make wild the tame.  

I think it has to do with the eternal fear of evading boredom, routine and repetition. So, I deviate from the rules I lay out in the beginning of a drawing. I break them to avoid boring the viewer and infinitely more important, to not bore myself. Physiologically speaking, probably this is a case of my left brain talking too much and my right brain saying shut the fuck up.

You have added moving images of your work-are you trying to push those images more?

Most definitely. This is an extension of the previous question. I am trying to push order into the realm of chaos. I want these drawings to be as visceral, nausea inducing, trippy experience as possible while retaining their grounding in reality. Also, my goal, with making these images move, is to add another layer of mystery that approaches the sublime. Basically, I want to activate the senses as visually as I possibly can.

Elaborate on the current works you have right now.

I am starting to implement digital elements in my work. The hand drawn and digital hybridization is not only a visually compelling experiment, but also a great metaphor for our human condition. Our time spent doing something physical like communicating and the other time we spend on social media emulating this experience of doing something.  

The lines get blurred and we do not delineate between the two, nor do we judge. In essence, I want to literally convey this condition in as seamless a way as possible. The viewer knows which is hand drawn or digital but does not care. The hand drawn and digital coexist to me. The two are not mutually exclusive.  

I want to take what the viewer sees and create what Samuel Taylor Coleridge describes as “the suspension of disbelief”.  This being, an intentional avoidance of critical thinking or logic in examining something, usually surreal, to believe it for the sake of enjoyment. 

TIM MAXWELL//INSTAGRAM// FACEBOOK