Next Big Thing: Max Xeno Karnig
His enigmatic paintings explore themes of desire with a heavy dose of satire and the absurd
In the hands of Max Xeno Karnig, cinematic icons are treated with the same reverence as mythological and religious subjects from Western art history. Depicting the likes of Keanu Reeves and Jean-Paul Belmondo in bizarre settings, his enigmatic paintings explore themes of desire with a heavy dose of satire and the absurd.
“I have a lot of fun taking contemporary film icons from movies I adore and thinking about arranging them according to historical compositions from the painters I am so enthralled by,” says Karnig, who is currently preparing for a solo exhibition at Painters Painting Paintings slated for March 2024.
Unique process: “Depending on what I’m painting, I sometimes make a preparatory drawing, which is my guide to setting up the contours and general map of value shifts,” he explains. “I then begin to add layers and glazes of color over that. It is a relatively traditional approach that is in keeping with some of the artists I look at most, but it is inevitably colored by my own personal eccentricities in the process.”
“I am drawn to Max, who is a California surfer, and his sense of American Deco muralism, which is distilled in small-scale works. I just love them and where he is going”Billy Cotton
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2023 Winter Issue under the headline “Next Big Things.” Subscribe to the magazine.
Click here to see the full list of “Next Big Things.”