It is instinctual for humans to create. Before any language, we made images; communicated with pictures. As we evolved, many humans lost focus on this inclination to express ideas and feelings that cannot always be put into words. Artist Max Kauffman seems to connect with a deeper side of his humanity. Something primitive and instinctual comes out from his primarily ink and watercolor works. Gazing through the apparent abstraction one starts to notice emerging structures that elicit a feeling of familiarity yet, continue to keep you curious.
For the past few years Max has been living a pretty nomadic life couch surfing though Indiana, Colorado, California and then some. Living each day usually unexpectedly brought excitement and pushed his art making. Max painted much like ancient humans back in a time where life was a constant surprise and we had a yearning to express the feelings it brought with it. Wandering through the United States also gave him opportunities to work within different communities. Through co-curating pop-up group shows and making public art, Max welcomed a wider audience to the art world reminding them that art is accessible to everyone.
Though he created often, this lifestyle did not come without challenges and a struggle for balance.
“There is an aliveness to it – the openness of possibility, embracing risk, and adapting to plans on the fly. It seeps into the work in the form of new ideas/approaches, and most importantly, openness. While there is plenty of inspiration while traveling, it also takes it’s toll. Not being able to maintain a routine/sleep in your bed/have your space, these things don’t seem to matter until you lose them.”
Max has currently settled back into his Oakland, CA studio. He spent the beginning few months of this year recharging in semi-seclusion. Digesting his past few years on the road, Max has been taking the time to nurture his ideas. Reconsidering everything, he pushes through his comfort zone of works on paper moving onto panel and, recently, linen. This exploration is shown in his recent solo When the Current Dictates at Cass Contemporary in Tampa, FL. As the title suggests, the collection of work is a reflection of Max’s style of living during this portion of his art career. Going with the flow is inherent to man and, in the beginnings of society, we had to usually adapt to each day as it arrived. Modern culture tends to fight this natural state and it appears that Max’s paintings are messages to viewers to loosen themselves from the anxiety of trying to control life’s path.
“There are always ideas and themes I explore but, a lot of what comes out is just forces moving through me. It’s a trust that my hand will go where it needs to and an acceptance that control is always an illusion. To quote the writer E.L. Doctorow, ‘…it’s like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.'”