Prodigy front man Maxim collaborates with mixed media artist Dan Pearce for new pro-youth mental health art project ‘Hope’
Still reeling from the shock death of beloved Prodigy legend Keith Flint in 2019, I, like many others, have been deliberating on the existing electronic titans’ next move. With social media teasers whetting our appetites, die-hard fans have been gearing up for the release of hotly anticipated new material from Liam Howlett and Maxim. So when an Instagram post from the latter appeared regarding the start of a new collaborative art exhibition on May 20th, I was intrigued. But this exhibition caught my attention, not only for its injection of meaty Prodigy clout but as an art lover, its impressive craftsmanship, as well as its support of youth mental health; a resonating sentiment with my own youth scheme ‘Riot Relief’. The other artist in question is Dan Pearce, a phenomenally talented mix media artist, and the two have been mutual admirers of each other’s work for some time, now having collaborated to create 50 sculptures depicting a little boy (based on Pearce’s son Jackson) wearing a gas mask and preparing to pull the pin on a clear, resin grenade, containing a heart – symbolic of the vaccine, and the hope it brings to free us from the restraints of post lockdown uncertainty. The grenade is a recurring symbol and theme in Maxim’s art, which includes highly sought-after paintings, prints and sculptures created during his 18 years in the art world. The pieces demonstrate Dan’s skills in 3D modelling and Maxim’s experience floating objects in resin. The lucky owner of these pieces will also receive an exclusive four-track EP. In addition to this, the two artists are also donating pieces to NHS Charities, YoungMinds and Shelter.
With echoes of Banksy style street art, and diamante encrusted flourishes à la Damien Hirst, it also pops a punch with splashes of acid Warhol-like screen printed pigments (echoed throughout the gallery with Pearce’s impressive body of work which includes everything from imagery of the Queen to Kate Moss, Grace Jones, and Michael Caine). Much like the association of iconic British designer Vivienne Westwood to Punk Rock, there is a cross culture appeal to this exhibition that exudes a street art and rock n roll vim, whilst also retaining a more millennial draw with subtly layered brand logos and lacquered spray paint. But perhaps what makes this exhibition more current is its more sombre and at times perhaps dystopian message. The collaborative series of gas masked boy sculptures are accompanied by a short film (which also features Dan Pearce’s son), set amidst the gloomy backdrop of the pandemic. The seven minute film which echoes the sculptures imagery, touches on the mental health implications and confusion of the pandemic on young people, as well as highlighting the impact on homelessness and the increasing National need for food banks amongst spiralling austerity. There is also a touching cameo from Maxim as a homeless man or ‘ homeless angel’.
Avid Prodigy fans may be ‘au fait’ with Maxim’s own artistic ventures, including impressive atmospheric mixed media paintings and punchy resin sculptures. Visually his work echoes the vigour of the music he is known for, with many mixed media creations using a dark palette to create bold and beautifully foreboding scenes. Prodigy fan or not, this exhibition is a must-see, with Pearce’s extended bank of work an electric assortment of mixed media triumphs. You have until the 13th June to see this captivating series of sculptures, and for us Prodigy fans, a fascinating glimpse into Maxim’s immense and extensive talent as a unique visionary.
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