Photos: Mike Maxwell at The Shooting Gallery

Juxtapoz // Monday, 25 Feb 2008
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In his first San Francisco solo show, Mr. Maxwell produced a large amount of new works that filled The Shooting Gallery. While known for his portraiture of Civil War characters and various characters in history and folks with regular lineage, this exhibit showed another side of his skill. Mixed with portraits of those known and unknown are dripping houses and dream-like scenes of lands only known in his mind’s eye. You can see in each piece that his skill has sharpened; tighter lines and a broadened palate have given his work more depth. The usages of colored geometric shapes in the works lend the viewer to look past the face and into the heart of the paintings. Does divinity come in multicolored eye beams or from the brain behind the eyes? Each individual will take their own meaning from a painting but the general feeling is conveyed.
One of the constants in his work has been the blue faces of some of his subjects. Is he trying to convey a sullen and depressed subject? Are they figures in history with a sorted legacy? Or maybe he’s tired of the traditional reality of the human color spectrum? In Supernatural Selection there are a limited number of these blue faces, giving thought that the choice of color is deliberate and with purpose. The only negative comment that could be made, and it’s a small one is that some of his backgrounds and shapes remind me of Chris Duncan’s early work, minus the string. But this is only in a couple of the paintings and the view of one person. One of the strengths of the show is the inclusion of additional themes beyond the straight ahead portraits that he has done in the past. This growth is essential for all artists and as he continues to grow I think we’ll see more and more of Mr. Maxwell.

Photos and text by Isaac McKay-Randozzi.