Max Van Alstine

Degeneration (Undressing), 2022

Acrylic Mural

This mural follows a narrative of disrobing, in which a powerful figure is stripped of the body of his own creation. Each layer pulled away reveals a new form, and gradually the figure which at first poses with the carcasses of serpentine creatures (“worms”) is reduced to one himself.

Burning Bridges / View From the Staten Island Ferry, 2022

Acrylic on Canvas

Burning a bridge, or committing to a course which one can’t turn back from.
This painting is mounted on top of a mural.

Studio Installation I, 2021

Acrylic Mural

This installation combines a series of woodcut prints and wall paintings which represent the beginnings of this body of work. These paintings were done without specific aesthetic intention, following an impulse which aimed to generate the first images of this world. The characters depicted here would evolve into some of the primary characters involved in this world building.

Soft Helm, 2021

Plaster Gauze, Wire, Nylon, Acrylic Paint

This sculpture models a helmet which might belong to a mature or fully-developed “worm”, which conceals itself with armor or other heavy defensive garments. The materials employed contrast the expectations of armor which is hard, heavy, masculine–with the softness of a stuffed object.

Cicada Opera I, 2021

Wood Block Print on Paper

Depicted in this print is an anthropomorphised struggle between cicadas and the cicada-killer wasp, which hijacks the body of a cicada in order to gestate its own offspring. This print dramatizes this violent conflict as seen through a cicada society

Fantasy of Your Own Body, 2021

Acrylic on MDF

Exploring the adolescent phase of a worm's life, this painting explores feelings of guilt and shame surrounding the body and sexuality. It is concerned with narratives of queerness and predation.

Fantasy of Your Own Body (detail)

Artist Statement

Working in acrylic painting, wood cut, and sculpture utilizing various materials I have developed a complex fantasy world where archetypal characters encounter their surroundings, each other, and mysterious forces of the universe. Through them I am able to seek understanding of my own life and material existence, as I sometimes feel as though I am living on an alien planet. Through these figures, often inhuman or almost human forms, a breadth of relationships and experiences are explored. The intensity of these experiences are reflected in the armored, combatant forms of many of these characters.

I aim to balance careful rendering with loose, intense linework to define forms and locations, taking inspiration from both formal painting techniques and the campy, exuberant world of sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book illustration. In this work I also explore the role of analog materials in a world building practice, something which has become heavily immersed in digital forms of creation. The world building here moves between my own real experiences and a fantastic, imagined world which draws heavily on medieval visual styling. This work is also concerned with the conception of fantasy as an escapist medium, and questions that viewpoint by considering fantasy as an extension of the mythic tradition. In the development of this world I have undertaken a “journey” into an internal realm, where rather than making dictations about the content of the world it reveals itself to me through the imaginative process.