Radiant Birds: A Suite of Objects by Max Maddox
04/08/2022 - 04/30/2022
Opening Reception: Friday, April 8, 6 - 10 PM
Birdwatching: Saturday, April 16, 12 - 3 PM
A great hunter, naturalist, and journalist, John Audubon was perhaps the greatest bird painter of all time and their greatest witness. My only intention with Radiant Birds was to respond to his prints in Birds of America with all their complexity, to identify the love and violence within this masterpiece of art, science, and nature in rare harmony. My penwork brings a little “systematic chance” into the picture, a solitary game with a few architectural templates, and my pairings are meant to plushly adorn these prints, to memorialize the birds they portray with a few bird baths that anticipate some work to come “in the field.”
During Audubon’s time, before the invention of photography, he shot and killed these birds that he clearly loved in order to render them still enough to draw. He was an unrivaled observer but also a proud slave owner and a tragic positivist. I returned to this bird guide prompted, in part, by the theorist Baudrillard who drew lines around nature and knowledge that allowed me to think critically about post-capital freedom, and how to reach toward strictly unknown futures guided by nature and chance.
A few hand tools found their way here as well, reminders of old forms of labor, which we today leave behind to look at the birds. The hardest part of this project was to sit for a day and actually birdwatch, and it dawned on me how much “doing nothing” was forbidden by my habits, with a special kind of irony as my preparations for this show preoccupied me. This month, a window of time will be opened to the birds, on weekends my bird baths will be strewn about our park outside the gallery, and we’ll see if any visitors will appear before my mirrors for a drink.
Max has exhibited his work in galleries that include the Redline Contemporary Art Center (Denver), The Art Gym (Dener), Hillyer Art Space (Washington D.C), Locallective (Chicago), the Slought Foundation (Philadelphia), the Print Center of Philadelphia, The Ellen Powell Tiberino Memorial Museum (Philadelphia), and Abecedarian Gallery (Denver). He enjoys a bachelor’s in philosophy from Grinnell College and a master’s in studio art from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, where he was nominated for the Joan Mitchell Award and won the Fellowship Trust Award. Max co-wrote and in 2013 published the memoir Walks on the Margins, a 2014 EVVY award recipient, as well as winner of the Golden Quill Award and a finalist for the Iowa Review Award. Max is project leader of the Arts in Society funded design project, ArrayParity, and teaches drawing and painting at the Art Student's League of Denver. He is a current artist-in-residence at the Redline Contemporary Art Center.