Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chris Millar: Maximalist

"Although the works look psychedelic and look totally wacky, I don't use any sort of drugs at all" ~ Chris Millar
The Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton is hosting an exhibition entitled, The Untimely Transmogrification of the Problem by local wunderkind Chris Millar. As curator Nancy Tousley writes:
"A natural born storyteller, Millar sprinkles his sculptures, which are made almost entirely of paint, with visual clues to the questions of who and what, and even what might happen next, if their frozen moment in time were to melt. His paintings, on the other hand, are dense mixtures of images and words in which everything happens at once."
Everything happens at once. It's what Iranian-born German-based artist Daryush Shokof and music critic Simon Reynolds have identified as a defining aesthetic of "Maximalism." According to Shokof's "Maximalist Manifesto" (1991), maximalist art works are:
1. Figurative.
2. Politically aware, with socially critical points of view.
3. Erotic.
4. Mostly include ironic and humorous perspectives in concept or in form.
5. Not made to simply oppose minimalist works of art.
6. Open to wide views and visionary dimensions that can be fantastic, but not deformed.
Millar's works are crammed with minutiae and exacting details. It's as if Hieronymus Bosch was raised on Fruit Loops, Zap Comix and G.B.H. tunes. The day we visited, there was a 20-minute line up to get into the exhibit's boutique-sized room and people were using complimentary magnifying glasses to peruse the pieces as though they were rare, exotic gems. Some have called it hyper or hysterical realism, but as Reynolds writes:
"'Maximalism' is vague and capacious enough to contain a whole bunch of ideas and associations, but the general slant of these verdicts is that there are a hell of a lot of inputs here, in terms of influences and sources, and a hell of a lot of outputs, in terms of density, scale, structural convolution, and sheer majesty."
This seems like an appropriate response to the inflated times in which we live. In Millar's pieces everything is simultaneous and immediate - he wants it all.

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