We had the good fortune of connecting with Max Presneill and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Max, what do you want your legacy to be?
The essential thesis in my painting has always been about an awareness of my own mortality so this question strikes the deepest chord with me. I am concerned with legacy – in my art and in my actions as part of the wider artistic community. By founding and co-founding various organizations over the years – BLOC, Raid Projects, ARTRA, Durden and Ray, in particular – the core principal has always been in answer to this question: how do we support artists? This is where a legacy sits. It is why some people will remember you, hopefully with love. My time here on this planet has left me with self-awareness enough to know that despite being opinionated, headstrong and sometimes blunt, I have genuinely attempted to be a positive moment in the lives of others – honest and helpful. What I hope people will remember? These: 1. That I contributed to the success of others and was generous of spirit, with my time, connections and knowledge. I wanted to leave the small section of the art world that I could touch a better place when I am gone by giving what I could to help others reach their goals 2. That things that we do can make lasting and growing differences. Making art, curating, being helpful to others, showing support – all matters – and I hope I reflected this. 3. Life really is about ‘service’ in a very wide definition of that term. Showing is better than telling so I tried to lead by example. I hope my legacy has reflected that attitude, that hope, that belief in art and artists – and without ever becoming cynical when that was abused . That life is more than just career – follow your heart, be brave and take risks. It has worked for me and has kept me engaged and interested.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My paintings can be read through the merging contradictions of disparate elements of my life – motorcycle club life, dance culture, British background – attempting to meld formal and historical concerns with conceptual positions regarding the nature of masculinity, sub-cultural resistance, tribalism, anti-racism, aspects of power/violence and membership/obligation.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In normal times: Do the classic Cali thing of walking on the beach, camping in the desert and walking in the mountains all over same weekend! Go up to the Observatory for the view. Motorcycle ride along PCH. Eat at a range of places from taco trucks to some of the best cuisine from around the world – sushi in Little Tokyo!! On Sunday the Pasadena swap meet then a swim and a dance on the roof of the Standard Hotel can be fun. Maybe catch a soccer game with either Galaxy or FC or maybe a Dodgers game if they wanted to.. Visit some of the weird and wonderful sites that are particular to LA – those that the locals love. Museum of Jurassic Technology. Hollywood Forever. Hit the art museums and galleries. See some music at the Hollywood Bowl or the Echo. East side dive-bars, like Footsies, for drinks at night and follow up with some dancing at one of our many small and intimate dance spots – especially love the old school soul nights at El Cid, Southern Soul Spinners, Angel City crew and the retro crazy of The Bullet nights.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow – sooo many people!!!! All the artists who shared my journey in collaborative efforts – Raid Projects, Durden and Ray, ARTRA – fantastic people, dedicated and giving!!! All the great artists who participated, but especially those that I came to know and love. Time spent with them is always a pleasure. The early encouragement of John Hyatt was a game-changer. Family support over BIG life changes like migrating to the US. The emotional support of close family and friends, my wife LaLena in particular. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!! Much love and respect!!
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