Maximilian Prüfer (b.1986 in Weilheim Obb, Germany) Prüfer studied Design and Communication Strategy at The Augsburg University of Applied Sciences and Fine Arts at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna, Italy.
Maximilian Prüfer’s practice predominantly involves the exploration of natural processes and their transference to the visual image. Within this, Prüfer examines a range of existential, philosophical and political subjects in relation to evolution, humanity’s manipulation of and ultimate interdependence with the natural ecosystem, contravening the human cultural paradigm of separation from natural phenomena. One element of Prüfer’s practice where the expression of this analysis is salient lies within his unique representation technique recording the movements and conduct of insects that he has denominated Naturantypie. Through this methodological process, the very fine coating of the paper is displaced by the movement, creating an aesthetic that widens the concept of drawing independent of traditional tools. These works depict the most fundamental and instinctual forms of behaviour, including the impulse to survive and the economical employment of energy. However, this instinctual process is simultaneously manipulated by the artist by way of additional interpositions using barriers, scent, bait and light sources appropriate to the stimulus of each insect to manipulate the traces they leave behind. The works thus encapsulate an evolutionary process which continues and adapts despite the interference of humanity.
Building upon this interest in evolution, philosophy and society, Prüfer’s latest project, A Gift From Him, explores the consequences of environmental destruction upon the pollination process within agriculture. For this, Prüfer twice visited the Sichuan Province of China to research the mechanisms behind human pollinated fruit trees that has been developed due to the virtual extinction of the insect population as a result of the over use of pesticides. During these visits, Prüfer researched how the farmers in Sichuan have adapted to the reduced biological diversity by developing methods to manually pollinate flowers in order to maintain the components of the natural food chain. Using rudimentary tools, composed of bamboo sticks with chicken feathers attached to the ends, workers distribute pollen onto individual blossoms. Prüfer documented the entire process of this manual pollination from the ‘painting’ of the pollen on the blossoms to the physical labour required to transport the fruits from the valley through photographs, collected objects and films. As part of A Gift From Him, Prüfer brought a pear that he pollinated himself back to Germany, photographing it against a red background in reference to the associations of the colour red to luck, joy and happiness in China. He then preserved the fruit in a silicon mould, later casting it in metal and transforming it into a sculptural artefact. Ultimately, the works stand as an ambivalent documentation of humanity’s cultural evolution, both through the technological and mechanical achievements in the face of obstacles and the malevolent actions which generate said obstacles.
Prüfer´s recent solo exhibitions include ‘WIR’, Kugelmühle, Mühlbach, 2020; 'Tier', Galerie Kandlhofer, Vienna, 2019; 'Vieh', Museum Villa Rot, Burgrieden, 2018; 'Nest', Sotheby’s Artist Quarterly, Sotheby’s Munich, 2018. His work has been included in recent group shows: ‘...alle Jahre wieder... Jahresgaben 2019’, Kunstverein Arnsberg, 2020; ‘Flügelschlag’, Museum Sinclair Haus, Bad Homburg, 2020; 'Flügelschlag', Museum Sinclair Haus, Bad Homburg, 2019; 'Egon Schiele, Reloaded', Leopold Museum, Vienna, 2018/19, 'I Followed You To The Sun’, Galerie Kandlhofer, 2018; H2 Zentrum für Gegenwartskunst, Augsburg, DE, 2017; Neue Galerie im Höhmannshaus, Augsburg, DE, 2016. Maximilian Prüfer is a recipient of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation EHF Artist Grant 2018.