Garis & Hahn is pleased to present Mind in the Cave, an exhibition of recent work from Michael
Maxwell. In his first New York solo show, Maxwell conceptually links a stylistic primitivism with
the Neuropsychology of changing states of consciousness and modernist abstraction. Maxwell’s
raw, heavily -textured paintings and mixed media works explore the primacy of immediate
perceptual experience and materiality.
￼The exhibition includes work from three series in Maxwell’s practice: Phosphenes, Li and
￼Orgone. In all three series, a diverse range of materials including powdered quartz crystal, clay,
￼silver leaf, beeswax, rabbit skin glue, oil, acrylic, wheat paste, mineral pigments and plant dyes
￼activate luminous reflective surfaces on underlying digital imagery or raw unprimed canvas.
In his “Phosphenes” series, complex organic patterns mirror the active play of light experienced
with eyes closed, producing forms that shift within the visual field. The layered compositions of
abstract pattern give rise to more complex forms, echoing the process in which the mind builds
dream imagery from internally generated patterns of light seen in hypnogogic states.
These patterns have an external parallel which Maxwell references in the “Li” series. The series
is rooted in the Chinese concept of li, which posits an underlying order in nature as reflected in
its organic forms. Here, fields of gestural markings build up compositions, manifesting
irrationally balanced asymmetrical patterns akin to those seen in the natural environment.
￼The “Orgone,” series focuses specifically on the physical properties of the materials, classifying
￼them as either “conductors” or “insulators.” Compositions of oppositely charged materials
￼generate visual, if not physical, electricity from the interaction of polar materials.
The works recall the focus of early modernist art on the unique, heroic vision of the individual,
traveling along a continuum of modernist investigations into stylistic primitivism and the
unconscious. At the same time, they operate on a scientifically grounded meta-conceptual level,
drawing attention to the viewer's own shifts in perception and attention as they are physically
acted upon by contrasting fields of pattern, color and raw materials.
All these works return to the visual vocabulary of the subconscious and propose a decidedly
physical forward response to artistic experience. As an alternative to semiotics, they rebuke our
tendency to formalize art into linguistic interpretation, instead exploring other modes in which
the brain and body process and translate information.
About the Artist
About Garis & Hahn
￼Michael Maxwell received his BFA in art history from the University of Oklahoma and an MFA
￼from Rutgers University. His studio is in New York City’s Lower East Side.
Garis & Hahn is a gallery-cum-Kunsthalle that mounts exhibitions focused on conceptual
narratives and relevant conversations in contemporary art. By displaying an array of carefully
curated artists, the gallery endeavors to provide accessibility, education, awareness, and a
market to the art while engaging both the arts community and a broader general audience.