My Name Is Max Orlitsky And I Am Extremely Normal

"My hands think about things that my brain refuses to."  —Max Orlitsky

Overtly sexual paintings that shadow the emotional energy of Moscow with characters bound to the canvas in sexual bliss, unaware to the true turmoil surrounding them — such are the images conjured within the work of  Russian artist Max Orlitsky. The city is an orgy; politicians are out of their minds. "Holy fucked up with fucked up brains," states Orlitsky, commenting on a bureaucracy that resembles Goya's Witches Sabbath. Art is powerful: so powerful, the artist admits, that sometimes it gives him an erection.

Hard At Work

We first caught wind of Orlitsky at last year's Berliner Liste, the popular Berlin art fair, where his paintings, often depicting sexual intercourse between all genders, caused quite an attraction. Ironically (but understandably so), he's had trouble exhibiting his work back at home in Moscow. Despite this, his work is never complacent. Within a specific crowd, everybody seems to enjoy his work—the general public, however, feels otherwise. "The celebrated form of the human body in art never comes to mind [for them]," he mentions, addressing the morally-restricted public, "That exaggerated reality is the question of allegory." This is life in modern day Russia and he won’t deny that finding a more acceptable place to live has crossed his mind.

The sexual energy in Max Orlitsky's paintings is evident. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Simply put, Orlitsky wishes to paint and expose the secrets of different people in different situations. "I do not make gestures; I'm telling inside stories." Despite what his social media news-feed might lead you to believe, Max is not a party animal (though he likes having parties with beautiful women) nor is he trying to start a revolution like Pussy Riot (something he wouldn’t comment on). Despite his denial to rebellion, Orlitsky is currently preparing a project that would most likely break the newly passed law against those ‘offending religious feelings of the faithful.’ Even with this fear, he continues undeterred. 

Artist Max Orlitsky with studio models on an especially normal day. Photo courtesy of the artist.

It’s a dull rainy afternoon in Moscow. There are the occasional rays of belief through the clouds from ideal persons; they are the saving grace. These are the days where one has to believe in a heaven and a hell; to hope there is a bigger, more knowing power.  How can a true art scene live in a place where true freedom is non-existent? It can live like a martyr. "Art has been murdered plenty of times; it was buried, then revived," the artist ponders, "Maybe the art world will find some new God; an ideology to make everybody believe." Amen to that.

Adoration to bronze cucumbers. 250 x 350, 2010. Photo courtesy of the artist.

APs: Is there one last crucial thing we should know about you?

Max Orlitsky: Yes, I am extremely normal.

APs: Aren't we all.

Max Orlitsky [Price range of works:  €5,000 – €25,000]

Article by Tristan Boisvert