A Day In Decay: Studio Visit With Max Presneill

Max Presneill painting

Before Downtown LA was cleaned up and made habitable for non-crackheads, The Brewery was one of the only places worth visiting. Sitting next to the LA River, The Brewery is a collection of industrial buildings and warehouses turned into artist live/work spaces. Pretty sure some of the people at The Brewery can be categorized as “Burning Man” types waiting for the mothership to pick them up…. or rich Sunday painters living the “artist” lifestyle. But, all jokes aside, there are actually a handful of artists living and working here who contribute to LA’s thriving art community. One of those individual’s is longtime friend, artist, and curator Max Presneill who was gracious enough to open up his studio to us right before he moved everything to his new space. But, before we get to Max’s studio lets poke around The Brewery…..

Max Presneill painting

(Like I said, Burning Man types…)

Max Presneill painting

Amazing metal bridge connecting two buildings.

Max Presneill painting

What goes better with graffiti than hand painted shark tooth canoes?

Max Presneill painting

So, here is Max surrounded by literally hundreds of his paintings, talking about his painting process. His work is not only layered and dense with color/imagery but Max primarily works life size or larger. I haven’t seen his new studio yet but I hope he has ample storage.

Max Presneill painting

Each of Max’s paintings have a rich story and narrative that he uses as a springboard for the work. The painting on the left was based on a portrait of Billy The Kid. It’s hard to tell from this photo but the painting is extremely layered. The paint weaves in and out of the figure, creating depth and flattening the space all at the same time.

Max Presneill painting

No material is safe in the work. Spray paint has equal weight as oil with the surfaces. It’s so thick that the paint starts to sag.

Max Presneill painting

Max has a rule that a painting isn’t finished while it sits in his studio. He continuously works and reworks the images. Some paintings are finalized in a few weeks, while others have been worked on for years.

Max Presneill painting

Back to back…

Max Presneill painting

More back to back paintings…

Max Presneill painting

So many paintings that some are even called “Back To Back To Back.”

Max Presneill painting

Max breaking down the various levels of the narrative in a large work.

Max Presneill painting

After walking us through what seemed like 50 paintings in the front room, Max took us back into his actual studio, where there was a massive work in progress.

Max Presneill painting

The above is a mock up of a  Théodore Géricault’s Raft Of Medusa, which Max is basing his epic painting on. The work is so large that Max has to work on it panel by panel, never seeing the completed work until it hangs for his show at Edgar Varela Fine Arts.


Max Presneill painting

Nice detail of one of the panels.

Max Presneill painting

Studio references and inspiration.

Max Presneill painting

A work of this scale takes oil paint of epic proportions.

Max Presneill painting

When you’re studio floor looks like this you know you’re doing something right. Thanks for the visit Max!

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  • http://www.jameschongart.com James Chong

    great studio visit! very inspiring.

    that brewery bridge is awesome.

  • Amir

    thanks james! I got a bunch more coming up for you so stay tuned! Actually i’m not even sure if its a real bridge. Technically you can climb on it but I wonder if anyone ever has.

  • http://jasonredwood.com jason

    great studio visit amir. really dig the work

  • http://www.jameschongart.com James Chong

    by “climb on it” if you mean “walk on it,” yea you can. its accessible and active.. i’ve been on it. used to study at a studio there back in highschool. thats where i took some of breaks looking out to the downtown skyline. very nice in the evenings btw.. but if you meant climb the different levels on the structure on the bridge. i’m not sure if i’d want to do that.. ahahah. pretty scary up there.