Oakland based painter Max Kauffman (covered here) seeks to find peace in his soft, loose watercolors that reflect chaos. This journey often leads him to colorful, abstract structures like houses, which he calls his “sanctuaries”. In his artist statement, he says, “The world I portray is sometimes yours and mine and sometimes a more magical place – I call it future primitive. It is a potential path or maybe just a way to reconnect with more pure ideas of culture from our past. It is knowing empires crumble, but accepting the growth that emerges in the aftermath.” His latest series of paintings for “Beautiful Squalor”, now on view at Parlor Gallery in New Jersey, seems to find them in a state of visual disintegration.
Kauffman considers this new series to be a cross section between his older and newer direction. His previous paintings are usually clean, but these new images are muddied with blemishes of dark colors as if to suggest the passage of time and decay. The artist breaks down his architectural, graphic lines into what he calls portals or other worlds with a handmade folk art-like quality. As in his new watercolor and spray paint ink piece, “Pleasantries Aside,” sometimes the subject is broken down completely into pieces to appreciate its Aztec-inspired design. Another painting, “Dissolved Sanctity,” evokes the weaving and quilting of textiles as a sacred building is dissolved into geometrical patterns. Moving in and out of the subconscious and reality in this way, Kauffman’s series also looks at the duality of how we experience life.