Maxim Brandt | Poetic arrangements

Interview D. Foertig
puplished on
February 11, 2022
House of All Possibilities | 2021 | Oil and acrylics on linen | 180 x 150 cm | Photo credits: Maxim Brandt
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Maxim Brandt | Image Courtesy the artist

The Munchies art club is proud to present in its newest artist feature the contemporary painter Maxim Brandt.

Who is Maxim Brandt?

I am an artist based in Berlin and my main artistic activity is painting.

Creating a painting is for me like rhyming a verse or like staging in a theater. 

I call it a poetic arrangement. 

In my art it is very important for me to break the logic or rather to expand on it going beyond the boundaries of realism - something like augmented reality. 

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Melancholy | 2018 | 120 x 120 cm | Oil on canvas | Photo credits: Maxim Brandt

 Interview questions

◉ As a young child, you lived in Ukraine where you watched Russian Fairytale movies that still today influence your work. What else did you take away from that time? 

It is difficult to say exactly what I took from my childhood in Ukraine, probably I took a lot, since I was quite formed there and moved to Germany already as a teenager at the age of 14.

I think my mentality is still quite Eastern European, especially when it comes to art. 

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Docta Ignorantia | 2019 | 50 x 40 cm | Oil on canvas | Photo credits: Maxim Brandt 

I really like to find something hybrid between different cultures, to add elements of Eastern European folklore, such as a matryoshka doll or a forest as a fairytale motif.

Literature had also a great influence on me, for example Nikolai Gogol or Daniil Harms, who also went beyond the real, supplementing it with absurdity or grotesque.

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Maxim Brandt | Image Courtesy the artist

◉ When did you realize you wanted to become an artist? Was your family supportive? 

Despite the fact that my parents have technical professions, I was always drawn to creativity anyway.

My grandfather was a talented graphic artist and an architect. Maybe it's his genes.

After leaving school, I just realized that I didn’t want to study anything else, except to study at the art academy. And I did it. 

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Angel Of Self-Reflection | 2021, | Acrylics on canvas | 50 x 40 cm | Photo credits: Maxim Brandt

◉ If you had not become an artist, what else would you have enjoyed doing?

Haha, I would try to become an artist. No, seriously, I don't want anything else, unless they force me to.

The only thing that still gives me pleasure is teaching art, sharing knowledge and skills with others. 

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Maxim Brandt | Image Courtesy the artist

◉ Other than painting, are you interested in any other mediums you want to or have tried? 

Yes, I tried myself in other directions, for example in performance and in new media. I really like the genre of cinema and video art.

But I have to be honest with myself - this is not mine, this is not where I feel what the Chinese called Wu wei. 

On the other hand, I constantly follow and I am very deeply interested in what is happening on the periphery of art and IT, as well as new technologies like AI and Virtual Reality. 

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The Ladder Owner | 2021 | Oil and acrylics on canvas | 180 x 150 cm | Photo credits: Maxim Brandt 

◉ What are the dominant themes in your work?

Probably from the outside, if you look at my work with a clear eye, it is not so noticeable, but I am constantly circling in the topics of psychology, neuroscience, art history, religion.

Most of my works have surreal, dreamlike, almost psychedelic quality.

The very act of creation is a central theme for me, it is still a secret that I want to understand. 

I create a kind of poetic arrangement of objects on canvas based on ideas, images and themes that inspire me at that moment.

Poetry is very important for me, it stands opposite to common sense, logic, pragmatism and utilitarianism.

Poetry is closer to metaphysics, it doesn't make art understandable rather the opposite, but this is exactly what creates the enigma that attracts and motivates the mind to analyze and search for answers.

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Two | 2020 | Oil on canvas | 80 x 70 cm | Photo credits: Maxim Brandt

◉ I read that the German surrealist artist Max Ernst influenced your painting style. Was he the reason you started painting the way you do today? 

Yes, I was once very inspired by his collage novel Une semaine de bonté.
Our life is a collage. Our dreams, our memory, our perception of reality - these are all pieces, fragments combined by our mind.

Behind one thing is another thing, everywhere are layers, layers, layers and layers. 

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Maxim Brandt | Image Courtesy the artist

◉ Could you walk us through your creative process for a painting? A series? 

Ideas for my paintings come to me during the day or before sleeping. I did not follow up how exactly they appear. Usually it has a very fast nature - images just arise.

But of course they do not arise on their own. This more often happens after reading literature, watching movies or visiting exhibitions of other artists.

I often take a basic image that plays the role of the stage for me, which I then complete and modify with other cut-out elements. For me it's like rhyming a poem.

I like multi-level constructions like mise en abyme, story within a story. It brings the effect of deeper immersion into a work of art.

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Genius Loci | 2021 | Acrilycs and oil on linen | 75 x 50 cm | Photo credits: Maxim Brandt

◉ Do you listen to music when you work? If so, what have you been listening to lately? 

I listen to everything. So let's check out my playlist: Medieval Music of Andalusia, Travis Scott, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Shpongle, Viktor Tsoi & soviet post-punk...

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Maxim Brandt | Image Courtesy the artist

◉ Your studio is so tidy, the floors so clean, the walls, everything set out orderly. How do you manage that? 

Haha, it's just my new studio. Let's see what it will look like in a year. 

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Photo credits: Museum Villa Rot 

◉ You have received quite a few prizes over the past years. Very impressive. Which one has meant the most to you? 

I remember very well participating in the 68e édition de Jeune Création in Paris. It was very interesting to get acquainted with other finalists, to communicate with artists from different countries.

I always see us as some kind of sect or club, whose members sometimes meet at such events, discuss something, have fun, and then again leave for their studios :) 

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Maxim Brandt | Image Courtesy the artist

◉ You did 2 residencies, one in France and one in China. What did you take back from these experiences? 

Oh no, I probably told this story many times, sorry for my indiscretion: I remember most of all how we ended up by chance after the art festival in Arles in the villa of a famous curator and there was no one there except Natalie Portman and her family who were there apparently rested or hiding from publicity. For me, this was completely unexpected. 

Of course, China left in me more interesting and deep impressions. It was important for me to learn more about their concept of art.

In China, as you know, there is nothing wrong with copying, the concept of plagiarism is more of a Western origin.

Chinese artists initially try to outdo their masters by copying. I was also very inspired by their attitude to nature and Chinese philosophy.

It became obvious to me that artists, no matter in what country, are one of the few professions that are not indifferent to nature. Art is very connected to it and therefore we artist are its protectors. 

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The Naive Musketeer | 2019 | 90 x 90 cm | Oil on canvas | Photo credits: Maxim Brandt 

◉ How would you explain your paintings to someone who has never seen one? 

It would not be complete just to simply describe the objects and their composition on the canvas.

You have to tell what is happening on the painting. But this is mostly very poetic and has a lot of interpetations.

Giorgio De Chirico wrote a magnificent dream-like novel, which I would say even stands above his paintings. 

contemporary paintings, circling in the topics of psychology, neuroscience, art
House of All Possibilities | 2021 | Oil and acrylics on linen | 180 x 150 cm | Photo credits: Maxim Brandt 

◉ Tell us a little about the above painting

It depicts what looks like an island in an unusual undulating landscape. This island looks a bit like some kind of marble platform or temple, where the columns are at the same time the legs of giant mushrooms.

The inscription Meta refers to a hint of metaphysics or something beyond reality.

A transparent structure, as if made of glass or water, hovers in front, which vaguely resembles a smiley face.

This fictional island, like many of my island paintings, is a place for me to take a break from the own mind, which is fast and dangerous to itself, especially when it is overloaded with everyday problems.

It's an island of stability among the waves. 

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Maxim Brandt | Image Courtesy the artist

◉ What are your goals for 2022?

My goals for this year are: to do more, to have more time for my practice. 

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ANG€L OF €UROP€, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 50 x 40 cm, Photo credits: Maxim Brandt

◉ How important is Instagram in your artistic path? 

From my experience, I can say that Instagram, as a tool for self-promotion and as an opportunity to present your work, works very well.

Thanks to Instagram, collectors bought my paintings and curators invited me to exhibitions, but I can't call myself a typical Instagram artist.

Most of the offers are still going on offline. 

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What If I Ask You About Who You Are | 2021 | Acrilycs and oil on linen | 75 x 50 cm | Photo credits: Maxim Brandt

◉ Do you feel the pandemic has left a mark on your work? 

It didn't affect the work itself. At the very beginning, when the exhibitions were canceled, it was a little unclear what to do? Fewer visitors came to the openings during the wave of the pandemic. But people adapt to everything and now I do not feel that it has become worse.

At the moment I have many exhibition offers. 

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Maxim Brandt | Image Courtesy the artist

◉ What one advice would you give emerging young artists? 

I still need advice myself :) 

Never give up and develop self-confidence, be honest with yourself and others. At least try. 

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Photo credits: Szydlowski Gallery 

◉ For those of us not living in Berlin, what galleries should we check out when we visit? 

We have a lot of interesting places: KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Schinkelpavillon, Haus Der Kulturen der Welt, König, Duve, Peres Projects, Max Hetzler, CFA, SAVVY Contemporary. 

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Maxim Brandt | Image Courtesy the artist

Follow the artist on Instagram:

Short CV: 

Born in Kertsch, Ukraine, 1986 

2008-2015 Study at Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts 2012 Bachelor of Fine Arts
2015 Master of Fine Arts
Since 2015 lives and works in Berlin

Exhibitions, residencies, awards

2021 KOSMOS LEM - Open Call - Neue Bilder zu Neuen Welten, Rechenzentrum Potsdam 2018 68e édition de Jeune Création, Paris
2018 Eb Dietzsch Kunstpreis 2018
2016 Muthesius Kunstpreis 2016 

2016 Otte1 Künstlerhaus Eckernförde Aufenthaltsstipendium 2016 Eb Dietzsch Kunstpreis 2016 

2015 Vater Kunstpreis 2015, Kiel
2014 Arbeitsstipendium der Kulturstiftung des Landes Schleswig-Holstein 2014 Muthesius-Preis
2013 August-Westphalen Reisestipendium
2013 Gottfried Brockmann Preis 


2017 Ephemeral Residency for Artists, Bandol, France
2014 Guangzhou, China, College of Fine Arts, South China Normal University 


DUEL -Maxim Brandt and Marius Martinussen, NB Galleri, Viborg, Denmark
Maxim Brandt, Edition Berlin/Galerie Rainer Gröschl, Kiel
Hexenkraut, Szydlowski Galerie, Warsaw
Maxim BRANDT / Alexis GALLISSAIRES Mathilde Hatzenberger Gallery, Brusseles, Belgium
Forest of Things, NB Galleri, Viborg, Denmark
SO UND ANDERS, Gudberg Nerger, Hamburg
Vision des Kuckucks Kunst & CoGallery, Flensburg
Fantastic Imperfections, Galerie in der Wassermühle, Trittau
Yellow Soup, Galleri NB, Viborg, Denmark
Logic behind the logic, August-Westphalen Reisestipendium, Neumüster 


Reality is a Perspective, Hermann Germann Conspirators, Zürich Needfull Things 2, Rodzlo Project Space, Berlin
Singularity, Mirus Gallery, Denver, USA
Don't be lazy, be crazy, Fantom Kunstverein, Berlin 

Gods and Monsters, Kunstverein Familie Montez, Frankfurt a. M. Domino °3, Salve Projektraum, Berlin
ANDERSWELTEN. Malerei heute, Museum Villa Rot, Burgrieden Needful Things, Uxval Gochez Gallery, Barcelona 

Lusus Naturae, BCMA Gallery, Berlin
Mediated Landscapes, Fivesparks Gallery, Harvard, Massachusetts, USA Les Academies #2 Nature Morte, Mathilde Hatzenberger, Brussels KOSMOS LEM – Neue Bilder zu Neuen Welten, Rechenzentrum Potsdam 

WAOU, galleri NB, Viborg, Denmark
VISARD, Salve, Berlin
Contemporary Landscape, galleri NB, Viborg, Denmark 

A very big thank you to the wonderful and very talented artist Maxim for sharing his work with us and with you!