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Maxime Angel: Let My Eyes Be Your Mirror

Fascinated by sexuality and mortality, Angel's cardboard drawings will this week be exhibited at north London gallery C4RD

In the entrance to her upcoming solo show, artist Maxime Angel is creating a walk-in art work: a hand drawn pencil mural across flattened cardboard boxes covering the walls from floor to ceiling that will, by the time the show officially opens, be a fully immersive introduction to her intensely beautiful work. Fascinated by sexuality and mortality, Angel is not afraid of divulging the personal in her work and has cultivated a body of drawings that are inscribed with her life, both in terms of content and the way in which they bear imprints of the artist’s presence.
Dazed Digital: Why cardboard?
Maxime Angel:
It goes back to the idea of homelessness, because for a period of my life I decided to live on the street and I used to live in cardboard boxes. I use cardboard boxes a lot in my work and I thought what if I deconstruct the box and I cover the space and I start to draw? If people come in through the front door and see the cardboard boxes, they’re almost coming inside with me and living in those boxes I used to create.
DD: What’s it like to draw on?
Maxime Angel:
I really love the materiality of it because it’s corrugated and if it gets damaged you can see the inside and it’s almost like layers of skin. I draw bodies most of the time and I love the connection between the material I use and the body, it’s like a metaphor for the body itself as there’s many layers to the body of a person but sometimes you can totally push and destroy those boundaries between the skin and the inside.

DD: As you’ve done when the pencil has torn through the card.
Maxime Angel:
There’s a strange mixture between destroying something and creating something new on top. Otherwise it would be like a perfect academic drawing on professional white paper where you’re supposed to put gloves on because otherwise you spread your graphite around the page. I can’t work like that.
DD: How do you work?
Maxime Angel:
Normally with my drawings I put them on the floor and I lay on top, I get really close. One night I was doing a drawing and then the next thing I know it was like 10 o’clock in the morning and I was on the floor, I fell asleep on top of the drawing. Then I realized there were some bumps on the paper from where I slept on it and I really loved to leave a trace.
DD: You can see the rubbings out on the card here too.
Maxime Angel:
I love the trace of things I rub out, I put my life in the drawing and my life, as much as I want to, is never going to be as perfect as I want. Instead of hiding that and making out that everything is perfect I embrace that and it shows true. Recently I was reading Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray and I wanted to use that as a metaphor for my life. I can always put up a façade that I’m perfect and beautiful but I actually, if you look at my portraits, I’m crumbling down. I though in a way maybe my life and my artwork is a modern version of this; I’m supposed to battle the virus of HIV and instead I decide I don’t want to do that. I’d rather enjoy my life at the moment and enjoy a more normal life, if we can call it normal, without the side effects of pills.
DD: It’s a deeply personal approach...
Maxime Angel:
I want people when they leave the exhibition to have me in their mind, not because I want to idolized or anything, but in this way they can understand me and maybe some people that normally wouldn’t understand a person like me, a transgender girl transmuting from male to female, they’ll get the real me and they won’t be afraid anymore. I think that art’s supposed to be honest and at some point supposed to give something back, making people think, it’s supposed to give you something more than something beautiful to look at. This is my life in these drawings.
Maxime Angel: Let My Eyes Be Your Mirror, 11th May to 17th June 2011, Opening reception: Tuesday 10 May, 6-8pm, C4RD | 2 – 4 Highbury Station Road, Highbury Islington, London