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Max Hembrow was born in Oxford in 1994. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University Bournemouth in 2018.
His paintings combine elements of the classical European tradition and School of Paris Modernism established by Picasso, Braque, Cézanne and Matisse, with a particular interest in musical motifs and the treatment of the figure in Picasso’s analytical cubism.
Hembrow’s paintings of the figure interpret Picasso’s technique of dissecting the subject from multiple viewpoints, using a simplified language of intersecting lines and numerous overlapping planes to construct an image of the body fragmented and distorted by the contemporary media. In a break from the traditionally simplified palette of colours common to early cubism, in some paintings, Hembrow embellishes the figure and surrounding space with patterns of strong primary colours suggesting the vibrant and intense colour of stained glass panels. In others, these patterns suggest a natural, ever-changing environment, both beautiful and chaotic.
In his series of lute paintings which reference the appearance of instruments as standard objects in cubist still life paintings, Hembrow takes as his starting point the brevity of a note plucked on a lute, the sound of which almost immediately disappears once played. He uses this as a metaphor for the act of painting –“plucked” from a moment in time – an idea underscored by the use of collage and found materials in these works, including eighteenth-century sheet music belonging to his great-grandmother. In these paintings, working both intuitively and strategically and often influenced by music, Hembrow constructs layer upon layer of rich colour and painted marks responding to rhythm, harmony and implied motion.
Max Hembrow’s work is included in numerous public and private collections including Radcliffe Science Library, Oxford University, and The Arc, Shoreditch. Selected exhibitions include Cubism Reimagined, 508 Gallery. London (2022); Millfield Polo Invitational, Kingweston House, Somerset (2019); Free Range, Old Truman Brewery, London (2018); Project Space 5, Arts University Bournemouth, (2017); Structural Genomics Consortium, Radcliffe Science Library, Oxford University (2017).