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a conversation with maximilian wiedemann + tyler shields

Tyler Shields is sometimes described (by a generalist audience) as a young Terry Richardson. This is definitely a massive compliment, but not necessarily 100% accurate. Shields’ vision is slightly more artistic and definitely a lot darker – a reflection of the fact that he is a true Millennial? Perhaps so.

On October 12th, Shields’ first London exhibition opens in collaboration with “the bad boy of billionaire branding” Maximilian Wiedemann featuring never before seen images of Lindsay Lohan (those of you who read KARLISMYUNKLE will know how much I love this fact) where the duo have partnered artistically. Wiedemann is best known for “turning culturally iconic images or brands on their heads”, and revealing information which is often more truthful than the original image (his most recent piece of high profile work was the cover of The Big Issue featuring Elle MacPherson).

I was fortunate enough to catch up with Tyler and Maximilian before the launch of next week’s exhibition. (Interview under the cut)

On an emotional level, what can a photograph or piece of visual art make you feel?

Tyler: That depends on what it is. I’ve had people write me ten page letters about how one single photo effected them in specific ways. I’ve seen people who have been turned on or cried from my videos. It depends on what that person is going through at that period in their life.

Maximilian: In a period of time I have been observing the emerging work around me and I look for a certain messaging from the artist, this might be a written message or an obvious intention from the artwork, there has to be content. I look for humour in artworks or a clever visual composition that makes a statement on society or our current day and age we live in. I want to smile and walk away thinking, yeah – art is the most beautiful thing that mirrors the madness around us today.

Pop culture and celebrity is a huge contributing factor to your work. Who would you cite as your pop cultural influences?

Tyler: I don’t really have any pop culture influences. I’m not really involved in keeping up with pop culture. I live in a little black box that doesn’t allow sunlight to enter into my world.

Maximilian: I am only a part of what surrounds me, its a refection of the tendencies in society linked to role models and what people strive for. Celebrities have replaced todays monarchy – some parts of society have become so obsessed with the life of these folks, just to tap into that “dreamworld”. I just love to observe the phenomenon of a celeb absorbed society. “From rags to riches- from riches to rehab”. Celebs underwear is as dirty as ours – but we only get to see the idol projected from the media. Religion is the opium of the people, today’s religion is popularity and Louboutins.

How do you build a relationship with the subjects you are painting/photographing?

Tyler: It depends. Sometimes it works the way it works when you go into battle with someone – when you have war stories you share them forever. When you set someone on fire it doesn’t matter how long you don’t see them for, when you do it’s like, yeah, I set you on fire. It’s just something you never forget.

Maximilian: I started painting portraits and magazine covers of friends that play a part in my life, then slowly the images were of public figures and celebrities. I use the mag-cover to bring relevant content to the person or place where I am exhibiting with the text elements. Yes, there is a friendship or relationship already in place before I paint a person. I see art is another form of documentary of life. Without a relationship this would just be a job.

Do you have any exciting upcoming projects that you would like to tell me about?

Tyler: My first novel entitled “Smartest Man” comes out in November / December, I’m very excited for that. The response is the best response I’ve ever got for anything. It’s about the smartest man in the world. It’s a different medium for me – something I haven’t done yet, but novels are the next phase of what I want to do.

And I’m really excited for mine and Max’s collaboration at Imitate Modern this month. You never know what to expect from Max. I get excited when he does his thing. No one does what Max does. He video Skypes me and he’s like a Tazmanian Devil churning paint from his eyeballs at 4am!

Maximilian: Yes, I will paint a smiley face on the moon. Tyler will hold the ladder for me I hope…

“Well Hung” by Maximilian Wiedemann and Tyler Shields runs at Imitate Modern from October 13th – November 20th 2011, for more information visit www.imitatemodern.com

Featured image: “Love Me or Leave Me Alone” by Maximilian Wiedemann and Tyler Shields


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