An Interview with Max Benz.
Who and from where are you?
Max Benz, born 1968 in Cologne/Germany.
How you got into this?
As a child I was drawing quite a lot, but I wanted to become a doctor. Later, shortly before the career as a plastic surgeon was starting to lift off with a study of medicine, I decided to go for arts instead. My dad hated me. ;)
A good while before that, besides high school, I started an education as a sculptor. My teacher was the sculptor and potter Jo Karl in Cologne, Germany. Later, after a short visit at the arts faculty (philosophy course) in Cologne, I was accepted as a student at the highly renowned Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (academy of fine arts in Düsseldorf/Germany). After a while I decided to change from sculpture to painting and was accepted by Markus Lüpertz as his student. Finally I was awarded by him as his "Meisterschüler" (master class student). Since leaving the academy in 1998 I live and work as a professional painter and sculptor in Cologne/Germany.
What is your driving force?
The unappeasable thirst for adventures. ;)
As a professional painter you have seen thousands over thousands of paintings. But despite this overwhelming volume you are restlessly searching for new ones: The next picture you haven't seen jet (not just a variation of something widely known) that obviously also has to have an extraordinary high level of quality. This obsessive force is what motivates me: Making things I do not know, paintings that I've never seen. Exceptional ones, unproven (as all really new), ones that I do not (yet) understand, born from necessity and not just a wittily idea.
What kind of work you do and why?
As a "painting sculptor" I am always working with "materials". At the moment I'm fascinated to work with the materials of a classic painter: A wooden frame covered with canvas and oil colors on top. That's it, very limited. Intentionally! This way you not only have a possibility of comparability to the great masters in the wide history of painting, you also have one of the hardest surrounding of competitors and one of the biggest challenges an artist can set himself - if you will (like me) do something really new within this deeply tilled field.
As a well-educated sculptor (and painter of course), I see a painting a bit different than a pure painter. For a solely painter, a painting is recognized as "flat" - he is only interested in the front surface and the oil paint is only a mean to an end. For me, by contrast, a painting is always an "object", containing and made by different materials. It has a front, a back and sides (I treat the sides also - they are always clean and pearly-white) and it has a mixture of differently colored finely ground materials bound in oil and resin on top of it.
With the "depainting" series I now go another step further. I also treat the all over painted oilcolour not only as the pastose material it is by default, using self build spatulas, squeegees and other tools (but only very seldom any kind of brushes) layering and scraping the colours often in the same movement, I also use the mindset of a sculptor by "adding space" into this colour-coating. I take away paint that was originally spread all over the whole surface to concentrate the events. The resulting "space" is an utterly flat surface of white oilcolour (and not the prime-coated canvas, as some may suppose), so that the beholder's eye will not take any notice of it. As a result the "colour-residues" are not only painted considering the laws of painting, they are also "arranged" like - let's say - e.g parts of an art installation.
If you want to see (and read) more, feel free to go to my Instagram account www.instagram.com/max.benz , my facebook page www.facebook.com/maxbenz or - of course - my website at www.maxbenz.com
All Images are copyright by: Max Benz