Max Berry’s work is comprised of semi-fictional paintings, bucolic scenes, vignettes and simple observation. Particular attention to line, colour, and the play between light and shadow reveals a single-minded attempt to slow time down. The paintings work in concert: dreamlike images of memory, levitation, water, and clouds condense to produce a companionable silence - an open invitation to the viewer to examine for themselves what they see.
International residencies and regional trips within Australia have equipped Berry with a pool of reference material: sketches, notes and photographs from these journeys crowding his studio. A slow, intuitive editing process has allowed specific details, memorable locations and persistent motifs to resurface for closer examination, before being committed to paint. In this way, disparate places and subjects are brought together without their relationships being overly determined or dictated. Berry manages to conjure a place of solitude and reflection, taking the viewer somewhere between the actual and the sensate. A single glimpse, a curious excursion that considers the relationship between world and self.
How are we to inhabit the poetic space separating places, words and things? Berry proposes a kind of magical presence in a world that is not quite our own but is, nonetheless, most welcoming.
Max Berry (b.1987) Since completing A Bachelor of Design at the UNSW Art and Design, Max has received the Australian Council for the Arts ‘Artstart Grant’ and awarded the Lloyd Rees Memorial Youth Art Award. Berry has been selected as a finalist in numerous art prizes including The Art Gallery of New South Wales Wynne Prize, The S H Ervin Gallery Salon De Refuse and the William Fletcher Travelling Art Scholarship. Consecutive solo exhibitions interstate and overseas since have led to acknowledgment in publications such Artist Profile and the Sydney Morning Herald. He has been selected for an artist residency programs at Bundanon Trust, Cill Rialaig Arts Center, Ireland and Nelimarkka Museo, Finland.
'It’s time for the heart and the body, to have their say. The more the days wore away, the more I gathered a sense of the greatness of the world, the immensity of time – and the littleness of myself and my concerns in the face of that great multiple panorama of History. I was no longer important, even to myself; and that realisation was like a liberation of the soul.'
Photograph: Jacqui Turk, 2020