The Max Patte Experience, situated at Allpress Gallery, was magically crisp and captivating at first glance. I was lucky enough to be part of the Artist Talk he hosted for Art Week, where he chatted to us about his creations, tantalizing background, and love for New Zealand.
Impulsively traveling from the UK with no security of a job, he decided to have a guided tour of WETA Workshop, where he was completely overwhelmed by the size of the studios, facilities, and working creatives there. “It was by far the most massive place I had ever worked.”
He started working for Sir Richard Taylor, (the bomb-diggity of film and special effects, Taylor’s work in costume and prosthetic design garnered our little country worldwide recognition) and started in the fiberglass department, where Max would create substantial moulds. Smothered in chemical fumes for five months, Max flew to Fiji for some much deserved sun.
[Revision, Division, Subdivision. 2014]
It was his main intention to work within a sculptural field, as he was technically trained, and also taught a course in the art when he was living in Stockholm. He moved from the fiberglass department to the sculpting HQ, and spent 8 years supervising there, along with managing the prosthetic makeup supplied for all of the characters on The Hobbit. A lot of Max’s friends are carved giants or horses – though, we can confirm he does have a human girlfriend.
Soaking up life in Wellington, Max wanted to make a souvenir for the city that accidentally became his home. This is how his most notable sculpture, 'Solace’, came to life. The project became extremely ambitious and massively strenuous, physically and mentally. Max proceeded to go blind from the particles that had flown into his eyes during the various stages of production. It may not be Marina Abramovic daredevil, but it was real, gritty commitment. Wellington is now blessed with a sculpture looking out towards its waterfront, which gets kindly dressed for each season, or rugby match. He describes the sculpture as an “emotional portrait of himself.”
Max later became absolutely obsessed with Da Vinci's Devine Porportions. The Vitruvian man and his teachings generated plans for his circular works, showcased for Auckland’s Artweek. "It all comes down to the slightest measure."
These Devine Proportions can be found in ancient architecture, human bones, and numerous other structural phenomena. Da Vinci teaches rules around proportions that are viewed inherently more beautiful in appearance. This template interested Max in regards to his human sized sculptures, where he focused on proportion and the innate beauty of form.
[A New You. 2014]
Fiber optics and the projection of light were other areas that Max had to immerse himself in, before he was able to nail them. He uses a CNC Mill – a large robot-like device that etches patterns and lines into a proxy glass material - to cut into clear acrylic for every piece in his exhibition. He then highlights the etched areas by layering strips of LED lights underneath his front surfaces. This process is extremely expensive and intricate, but boy, does it sound fun.
Along with his more complicated, conceptual artworks, his exhibition was accompanied by quirky figurative sculptures that circulated on an axis point, highlighting every element to the figure, which allowed it to become very realistic.
Working for clients like Sir Michael Hill and Charles Saatchi, Max Patte has an extremely impressive C.V and reputation among world-class art collectors - and it’s evident why, his stellar exhibition demonstrates his astute understanding of space and light. Max’s use of LED lights - that gradually change from colour to colour, slowly and very subtly - is extremely calming, and almost meditative; so, if you’re stressed from uni or work, I urge you to go and have a look immediately. The exhibition closes on Friday, the 23rd of October! Check out Allpress Gallery here.
All images courtesy of Max Patte