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Technology and colour collide

22 Jan 2020

Ten years ago, it would have perhaps been hard for British born artist and sculptor Max Patté to comprehend that his work would become world-renowned and attract a star-studded host of high-profile clients, including Sir Ian McKellen, Charles Saatchi, Stephen Fry, Sir Richard Taylor and Sir Michael Hill.

A graduate of the Wimbledon School of Art, Max boasts years of training in anatomy and sculpture including experience as an Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. It’s unsurprising then that after moving to Wellington, Max made a significant impact on the art scene. His waterfront sculpture, Solace in the Wind – which many consider to be his breakthrough work – is an iconic piece. In addition, his larger-than-life cast iron horses, The Frolic and the Fancy, stand magnificently today at the Hills Golf Club & Sculpture Park in Queenstown.

In recent years, Max has altered his artistic course to more colourful territory, focusing instead on lightworks and paint. His last three series relied on a huge spectrum of Resene paints, helping him to create eye-catching, graphic pieces. To be exact, his studio currently has 528 colours in stock that are either in use or have been used in his last three collections.

Colour, shape, light and space were the key focus points for Max’s previous collection, The Infinity Works. The collection that followed, The Droplet Series, is an extension of these qualities. Inspired by the growing technological world, it’s an aptly named collection as each painting is made up of ‘drops’ of circular shapes using bold Resene paint colours, and are reminiscent of rain drops on a window. The series is now part of Max’s private collection in his Wellington studio, and he welcomes the general public to visit his work.

“On first sight, the droplets could be mistaken as being one dimensional circles but the negative space between the artwork and frame cast shadows which draw us closer and it is then that the work reveals its spherical qualities,” says Max.

His work is influenced by how consumers perceive images through apps and social media, as well as the visual glitches that can occur when an image fails to load. The image is then broken down into colour components, lacking the detail of the original image – thus rendering the content incomprehensible.

“I wanted to focus on areas with more ‘punch’, concentrating on bolder and more saturated colours. So, I took this concept and manifested works in my studio using the technology I have at my fingertips,” he explains. “The end result is a visual sculpture comprised of a multitude of colours, each one resting in a perfect spherical mass.” While technology is a key influence, Max has also found inspiration in nature. His drives home around the south coast as the sun begins to drop specifically to influence his use of dusky colours.

To successfully capture the break-down of colour he needed to accomplish his goals with The Droplet Series, Max turned to Resene’s extensive collection. It was a process that required a great deal of experimentation and research and, in the end, he purchased 250 different Resene testpots to achieve the desired effect.

“Resene’s testpots retained all the qualities I needed and was still machinable on my CNC router,” Max says. It’s a lengthy process indeed, which makes it all the sweeter for Max when potential collectors actually visit his studio and gain an understanding of how his works came to be.

Looking ahead at what’s in store for 2020, Max is set to be busier than ever with his Horizon Painting series debuting from January 23 at Artbay Gallery in Queenstown. Each painting is inspired by photographic images from Max’s travels in 2019, with the titles of each piece acting as a geo location and time stamp to anchor it to an exact time and place of origin. "This is an immersive body of work; they offer comfort and protection. The works themselves emit and reflect light. They create their own environments,” Max says.

Max's favourite colours

Max says his clients are often big fans of the names of Resene paints, and he himself notes how much he’s learned by talking to Resene technicians. “It's also nice to know it's just one more element of the work that's 100% New Zealand made.”

In terms of his favourite colours, Max is a fan of tones that recur as guest stars in his collections.  “I love Resene Broom, Resene Picton Blue, Resene Home Run and Resene Pink Lace. Pink is a tricky one. I have a work in mind that would require a huge amount of variation in pinks from very subtle pastel, bordering on creamy pinks through to bright, almost luminous pinks that could add a real punch.”

In The Droplet Series, Max deep dives into the technology world, concentrating on colour and space. The successful artist uses a variety of Resene colours to capture consumer perception of digital imagery.

Max’s first leap into technology and colour began with his body of work titled The Infinity Works.

Anthozoa (above) features Resene colours inspired by corals, jelly fish and other semi translucent sea life. This piece is part of The Infinity Works series.

Circle Line (also part of The Infinity Works) showcases Max’s affinity for colour and space.

The above works are from Max’s brand new Horizon Painting series which, like his previous works, uses a range of Resene testpots.

Resene paints are a popular choice for many artists. See the online Resene Artist Gallery at www.resene.com/artistgallery and the Resene Mural Masterpieces gallery at www.resene.com/muralgallery for a taste of many projects created with Resene paints and colours.

To see more of Max’s work, visit www.maxpatte.com or stop by and see his upcoming Horizon Painting series at Artbay (13 Marine Parade, Queenstown) from January 23rd to February 16th.

images Steve Unwin, Clockwork Creative