Max Frintrop at A+B Gallery / Brescia

Max Frintrop
Mad Max

26.11.2022 - 24.01.2023

A+B gallery
Corsetto Sant'Agata, 22
25121 Brescia 

Images courtesy the artist and A+B gallery
Photos: Petrò Gilberti

Frintrop is a big guy. He shows me some paintings via webcam from his studio in Düsseldorf. He moves the frames using the whole body while he explains that he works the canvases by fixing them to the floor. To each one corresponds a pictorial attempt. It’s do or die. He shows me some peculiar brushes with long handles, which he builds to achieve a particular effect and to cover more area. There is much technique and physicality between the canvas and the artist. It amazes me that any fight disappears at the end. And, like in a magic trick, the paintings appear so natural. 
The exhibition in Brescia includes a wall with twelve works on paper. The quick practice on paper has always been part of Frintrop’s routine, but rarely it’s shown. On this occasion those offer an intimate encounter with the translucent pictorial universe. Still, it reveals the painter’s intention to use gimmicks and to play with time and space to preserve the same automatic and lighthearted humour of the works on paper at a larger scale. 
Also, the water-like nature of the colours sows seeds of doubt that pigments and acrylics never entirely dry. The fields are deep, and the gestures across them solicit their energy, revealing dense and unsettled materials. Chaotic wetness of the matter arises, contrasting with the neutral background. The extension of the white collocates the colour event in a symbolic infinite, allowing the hues a projection outside the frame, forgetting the physical limits of the object and vision. The vertigo of the void is translated into a disorientating experience of the intangible. In fact, in the painter’s mind, the experience of the painting shouldn’t be about how it’s done. And all the material involved should evaporate in a weightless and immediate image. 
Western culture has loaded artistic expression with political, social and civic burdens. The narrative of concepts, articles and texts nurture the idea that art plays a prominent role in the major changes of our time. In such a demanding scenario, filled with good intentions, it’s easy to forget the spirit of the game, losing sight of the primitive reasons that ignite the urge to create images and manipulate matter. Fortunately, artworks like Frintrop’s, keep a spontaneous and ancestral relationship with the act of creation. The painting portrays its untamed nature on canvas, regaining a sense of play. This autoimmune process frees art from the false weight culture invested in it, giving back a potential and pristine form of expression. 
The title Mad Max relates to a picture taken by Frintrop near his studio. The apocalyptic reference, the universality of an intimate place, and the pun on its name are possible reasons why the title felt honest for the occasion, with a simplicity that comes with many implications. As lightly as painting acts without pain, making the viewer feel when language and identities are lost, and when the game becomes as simple as the flow of a watery pigment. 
It may be only from such a position that one can appreciate an image today lowering defenses and expectations. By forgetting the present, the genre, the history, and the messages. By liberating art from culture and society. This madness is something to be enjoyed. 

Text by Gabriele Tosi