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Maximilian Kirmse


May 12 – June 16, 2018

Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition in Los Angeles of the Berlin-based painter Maximilian Kirmse, opening on May 12th and on view through June 16th. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, May 12th from 6-8pm.

Kirmse’s exhibition interzoni depicts a cartoonish and sometimes provocative urban universe: a place veiled in a frenetic, TV static and inhabited by characters wandering about their everyday lives in flickering light. Figures commute to work, crash their cars, walk their dogs and wait for the bus. This body of work was specifically inspired by Schöneberg, Kirmse’s Berlin neighborhood, an often-sundry neighborhood rich in history and a hotbed of creativity. While his characters continue their seemingly prosaic routines, we view a shimmering world through Kirmse’s perforated, kaleidoscopic lens.

Kirmse’s painterly technique reminds us of Pointillism, the legacy of Georges Seurat and the twentieth-century French Impressionists. Like Kirmse, they chose to paint modern life, no matter how sordid, blighted or ordinary. Pointillism as a technique was, in many ways, eventually rejected by the Impressionists as it was argued that the overall palette become grayish as a whole, undermining the group’s attempt to capture brilliant effects of light. For Kirmse giving a visual description of modern Germany, this unintended gloomy consequence seems fitting. The artist also references more contemporaneous dot-matrix printing and CYMK color separation as an inspiration for his technique – referencing his desire to pare painting down to the simplest, most minimal elements.  The artist also points to Otto Dix and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner as muses – they also chose bohemian subjects and painted in brilliant and dramatic light.

Within the body of work there is a variation in tone and theme that gives an overview of the complex world the artist creates. Kirmse plays with a clean, cheery palette in M.P.P.C. producing a Dr. Suess-like scene where bicyclists whizz along and buses warp along looping roads. He then gives us an intense dramatic night setting in H.P.: a lone street-walker loiters in the glittering rainy streets, withdrawn from the lit interiors in that frame her. Graphic, sexual images flicker through the glowing screens of a laptop illuminating a lonely, dark room in F.S. We also see lighter, softer tones and sweeter moments in G.F.B., where a woman embraces and breastfeeds her infant in an angelic, pastel light.

The exhibition’s title interzoni refers to a person who, like Kirmse, has moved from East Berlin to West Berlin – an outsider, or newbie of sorts. His inclusion and hints of reflective windows, glowing screens, fences and the glassy buildings reinforces the isolation by the characters that inhabit the artist’s world, who are all separated from each other by transparent barriers. The figures themselves meld with their surroundings, often painted as geometrically as the buildings they walk past or as cartoonish as the world they occupy. Figures are often painted without faces, denied the basic human expressions we use to connect with one another. Some are even reduced to icons or symbols of men, figures who seemingly peeled themselves off a men’s room placard and started shuttling to work and represent nothing but an empty business suit. We the viewer are also confronted with an invisible wall of the canvas picture plane – we are at once drawn into and denied entry to his intriguing world, which reminds us so much of our own.

One work, entitled P.J.B., gives us a clearer vision of an intimate, more human moment. A bearded man closely seated glances sideward, his face obscured by a Picabia-like reflection, as if you are looking at him through a window, although we are too close for that to be so. As if pausing to take in breath, the figure reveals a poignant snapshot of his intense, perhaps despondent thought in mid-conversation. Kirmse captures the emotional intensity of this fleeting moment: the man reaches outwards with his glance, diverting his vulnerability from an expectant confidante.

Maximilian Kirmse was born in Berlin (1986) where he now lives and works. Kirsme studied at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig and at the Art Academy in Dusseldorf before his master apprenticeship under Professor Astrid Klein. Kirmse has exhibited his works at numerous venues including the Kunstverein Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany; Kunsthalle Bozen, Bolzano, Italy and the Kunsthalle der Sparkasse, Leipzig, Germany.