Massimiliano Esposito or Maximilian is an artist who was born and raised in Milan, Italy, and now resides in Paris, France. From a very young age, he was interested in art and later Massimiliano attended art school which he successfully graduated in 1988. Maximilian has experience as a mural painter and a yoga instructor. He was teaching yoga in Milan until 2012. After moving to Paris, Maximilian returned to his creative passion – painting and since then he had multiple exhibitions and publications in the magazines.
I think visually and my job is to paint my ideas
When Maximilian submitted his work I wasn’t sure if it fitted WTZ’s platform which I honestly told Maximilian. However, there was interest in his creativity and the behind-the-scenes of his works. While I still find some of his works controversial, Maximilian’s artwork sparks confusion, questions, denial, interest which makes you want to dig a little bit deeper.
The interview covers Maximilian’s thoughts about art and his life and creative process. Check out Maximilian’s website and Instagram page to form your own opinion about his artwork and enjoy the interview!
Why have you decided to move to Paris?
My decision to move to Paris in 2012 (at the age of 42) was motivated only by the desire for adventure, by the desire to live a new life experience. In my case, the change helped my artist a lot because after my arrival in France, I found new ideas and new motivations for my artistic career. In France, I participated in my first art exhibitions and all my works of the past eight years have been made in Paris.
“My artwork “The red path” expresses the side of madness and aggression
inherent in man. It is therefore a symbolic representation of “madness” in all its forms”, says Maximilian about his painting.
Your work can be seen as provocative, scandalous, controversial. How do you deal with it and criticism in particular?
I am aware that my artworks can be criticized as scandalous. But for me,
painting does not mean creating something “beautiful” but expressing my emotion (anger, fear, desire) through images. My painting is also my unconscious reaction to the violence of my daily life, and as violence, I also mean the rudeness of people, the dirt in the streets, the “ugly” that triumphs…
DO YOU TRY TO EXPLAIN THE MEANING OF YOUR WORK to people?
I express myself through the paintings and I don’t feel that I also have to explain my work with the words. So, I prefer the viewer to express their opinion which is obviously always very personal and it may not correspond at all to my real ideas related to the painted artwork.
I always try to transform myself
SO What was the weirdest interpretation of your work?
In the opinion of many people, most of my works are considered ‘strange’. Of course, the judgment depends on the mental filter of the beholder. I don’t think of my paintings as “the strangest” or “the most normal” because I simply don’t attach any mental concepts or intellectual interpretations to my works. I think visually and my job is to paint my ideas, not to come up with theories and opinions that remain, even if respectable, limited to those who elaborate them
How did you find your style?
My style developed “spontaneously” after my arrival in Paris. I have always
loved to draw and paint characters and figures. When I was a boy, my
favorite subjects were teenage female figures, like very special “Lolitas”.
After I arrived in France, during the past eight years, I discovered a new profile in the figure of a young pre-adolescent boy. I am fascinated by the
androgynous theme but also explore pro-religious themes, always remaining faithful to my expressive language which is to be understood must be seen and not explained.
Which Artists inspired your work and your vision?
I love many classical artists even if none of them directly inspires my
painting because it is linked to emotions, negative and positive, that I
live in my current reality. I love great artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo and
Caravaggio. But I also love the “art-nouveau” artist Mucha and the American illustrator Maxfield Parrish.
“My work symbolically represents the abuse of slavery and the manipulation of poor societies, in particular African ones, through the exploitation of resources and economic blackmail. The “golden box”, the title of the artwork, means the selfishness of rich closed societies and cynical towards the so-called “Third World”, Maximilian explained.
Can you tell more about your creative process? Do you prepare yourself or go with the flow?
My creative process is very simple and immediate: I have an idea, I draw a sketch of this idea and then I paint. Sometimes I completely modify the original idea, but often I remain faithful to the sketch. I do not follow an elaborate intellectual process, the idea is the image I have in my head because I am a painter and not a writer. So, from that initial idea, I then follow the flow.
Why do you create with THE acrylicS? What attracts you to it?
Acrylic is my favorite painting technique because it is very practical: it dries instantly unlike oil colors that require long drying times, it is odorless and it stands the test of time, unlike some other techniques.
Do you want to try any other media any time soon?
Previously, I was a mural painter. Currently, I work well with acrylic on medium-sized cardboard and intend to continue like this. Maybe in the future, I will also try to paint on canvas but this support does not appeal to me for now.
Do you follow current art trends or you develop separately from it?
I always follow only my “tendencies” and my ideas. I think that all
artists should do the same thing and not follow fashion or the trends that
society imposes or requires.
I don’t even have any favorite contemporary artists. On Instagram, I also follow many profiles focused on art, photography, and cinema, especially vintage.
“My artwork is a denunciation of racist madness, a symbol of ignorance, arrogance, and desire for domination. Silk and power and cruelty are used to justify the greatest forms of atrocity”, Maximilian told WTZ.
What are your fears and hopes?
My fears as an artist are always linked to the future, being able to realize my projects and my dreams. Unfortunately, in the current moment of serious international crisis and great uncertainty, my personal fears add up to concerns about developments in the international situation. In contrast to this, my hopes are instead to continue to consolidate my artistic path and share my figurative language with the public.
Can you tell us about your biggest goal for the next 5 years?
I’ve never been someone who thinks much further ahead than the next few months. I can’t project myself too far into the future and with the current crisis and the uncertainty that derives from it, I am even less inclined to think long-term. I know that my artistic path will be long but I prefer to reason day-by-day, with the ideas and opportunities that are presented to me.
So Now looking back at the corona crisis and quarantine, DID IT impact your creativity and personality?
The current crisis and quarantine have not affected my creativity and personality. The only effect is that I am unable to purchase my work materials (paints and paper) due to the closing of the shops, I was forced to stop my daily painting practice for over a month.
How do you deal with self-criticism and how do you know when your work is finished?
Technically, I am a perfectionist, every detail must be perfect. Self-criticism leads me, every now and then, to completely re-do the painting. I know that an artwork is finished when it corresponds exactly to my intuition and my initial idea.
“This artwork is a sarcastic and cruel metaphor for racial hatred. More generally, it represents “the killing” that the so-called “white man” causes to all other races and cultures”, Maximilian said.
As an artist, what do you think is your role in society?
My role in society is to change it because society needs creativity and that touch of healthy “madness” that only artists can offer. But, before seeing myself in relation to society, I always try to transform myself.
What advice would you give to the beginner artists?
The advice I can give to the beginner artists is not to follow the “common thought”, the fashion of the moment or what the public wants, but to have the courage to take risks even by expressing one’s own language that is sincere. The artist is not the one who sells works like bread but someone who knows how to offer an original point of view, even at the cost of upsetting, disturbing or frightening.
You can like, love, or hate Maximilian’s work but you definitely cannot ignore it. Maximilian is a talented and experienced artist who has his own path and is not afraid to share his perspective of this world. Isn’t it the goal of every artist? If so, Maximilian does it successfully!