George Maxwell was born in a twelve square meter hut in a small former-Yugoslavian village that probably had more cats than people. There were no cars, only horses. His father was a bit of a wildman who knew that his drinking and fighting were only a reflection of his growing frustration with the lack of opportunities at hand. This in turn convinced him and his wife to bundle up GM at the tender age of one and a half and head off to Germany to grab the brass ring of opportunity like thousands of other immigrants.
As a young boy in Germany, he got his hands on a camera one day and started taking shots of nature. Dirt, rocks, sticks, plants and animals were all in his lens. Little by little, he discovered how light, shadow and perspective could make any ordinary object look special, everything could actually have its own chance at being seen as unique.
“...we are just puppets, nothing else...we don’t know if we’re really here...I just wanna show the people how beautiful this planet really is...stop destroying our fucking planet!...we need those super-heroes in real life just to save us and the planet...”
2. Give it away
At 7 years of age, GM started fiddling with wood carvings. He began with imaginary faces on small blocks, then tried paper mache heads and full figures. After discovering comic books, he eagerly tried his hand at sculpting all his new heroes in clay, from Pinocchio to the Road Runner. Painting with watercolors entered the picture next at the age of 9, and lasted until the beginning of his teens. Throughout the oncoming years, while discovering cernit and its endless limitations, he began sculpting aliens, teeth and various forms of micro-sculpture, challenging himself with size and details.
His father, a trained carpenter, and his mother, a factory and service worker, instilled in him the magic of generosity and the full circle it tends to make in life, he claims. Between sending money back home and being big-hearted and very giving, as small town folks often are, money was scarce within the family. GM could somehow sense that he had to start making changes. He felt an impulse to start making a little money and possibly provide for himself and help his folks out.
His father told him one day that he could make a little pocket money on Saturdays cleaning up sawdust at his job. He jumped at the suggestion, and later at the end of his first day of work, he found himself in a peculiar learning situation in the front office asking for his pay.
The boss’s wife, a good-hearted person, asked him if five deutsche marks sounded fair. Feeling cheated at not understanding the offer, he asked for seven.
The woman smiled and said, “OK”, handing him fifty six deutsche marks to his amazement. He suddenly realized it wasn’t a day rate at issue, but an hourly one! Anticipating his father’s anger at the news, but not about to give up the loot, he said, “thank you” and left the office to face the music and confront his dad.
“...you always have to give half of your bread away son, you’ll smile later about it...Look, you’re never gonna be hungry, you’re a lucky guy!...” “...When I was a little girl we didn’t have shoes, so in the winter when it snowed, we still had to work in the fields and we’d stand in fresh cow dung just to warm our feet...”
3. Growing pains
At 10, GM became an alter boy at his local church and soon after began harboring dreams about becoming a priest and even the Pope, as he said. However, after suffering issues of abuse, he finally decided to break loose and never return. He recalled
a moment around those obscure and dismaying times when, once again, the family’s money was real tight and he needed new shoes but was forced to repair his old ones by filling the holes with silicon. The constant daily distraction of not having enough money, but figuring out how to accomplish things without it, proved to be all consuming, and,
as such, very consoling. Sometimes even rather humorous and artistic unto itself:
“...I destroyed all of the carpets at school with a silicon repair job
I did on my shoes, it never dried and I walked all over the school halls.
At first, I was really scared thinking that they’d catch me and make my parents pay for the mess, but we were really broke and there’s no way we could pay for that. Luckily, no one ever found out who did it, and I realized later that that was my very first piece of massive art!...” “...I decided then that when I become rich one day, I’ll support people with my art ‘cause that’s what my parents taught me to do as a kid, help people out, ya know...”
Playing the piano eased its way into his life at that point, as his yearning to listen to and absorb classical music grew. In addition, his excitement about the electronic sounds of the day provoked him to experiment with basic compositions. Yet, at the age of 15, the limitations of opportunity, money and pure restlessness found him on a train headed to Vienna, where a cousin of his lived. He spent three months hoping to establish himself and live with him, but returned to his tiny village in Schwarzwald, Germany after realising that his cousin had it worse off than his parents.
4. Moving on....
Through new contacts back in Germany, he found himself refurbishing cars, mopeds and bikes, trying to turn everything he touched into art.
He also started working the door at a local club at the undisclosed age of 16, only sleeping five hours a night so he could be at school in the mornings at seven. Lacking
a cool suit for the nightclub, he set about learning to tailor himself one from books and magazines after watching an MC Hammer video. Soon after, all his friends wanted the same, especially his oversized mates from the gym.
He eagerly got into the unconventional approach of spray painting fabrics and then sewing shirts, pants and suits together to obtain a freak appeal.
Unexpectedly, on his 18th birthday while working the door and in extra good spirits, he revealed the news about the occasion and his true age to his boss, who, nonetheless, angrily fired him on the spot. Although for him, he was happy and relieved that he could now catch up on some much needed sleep.
Back on the job hustle, he found work at a prosthetic dental lab. Within a few days, he’d impressed his new boss with his nimble hands sculpting mice-sized teeth, everything in smaller proportions and necessitating finer detail. His fascination with the challenges of miniature worlds and their maximum details held a special allure and would eventually pave his way on down the road.
5. Bluff power
GM decided to try his hand at being a croupier at a private German casino, becoming a top black jack dealer within a few months. This new endeavor, of course, also honed his gambling skills considerably as he decided to jump to the other side of the fence and try his luck as a player.
It was at this particular moment in time when he received grim news from his doctor. He was told he had terminal skin cancer and just a few months to live. This no way out black cloud that suddenly engulfed him, set him off on a gambling spree, gambling for his life, as you might say.
The adrenaline from winning helped him forget his fate, but also resulted in being banned from 18 casinos for winning excessively on roulette. Ironically, he was later asked to work again as a croupier to help a club prevent huge loses they were suffering at the time on their Black Jack table.
“...I bought a 190 mercedes, you know, I got big-headed after winning so much and blew it all, the money was bullshit to me. I paid 2,000 DM to put a casino’s stickers on the car doors, the place where I won all the money, and I went back to the casino to show them, and one of the guys at the entrance saw me and he couldn’t believe it. He asked me what the hell I was doing there with casino’s stickers on my car doors, ...and I told him, ...“Well, since you guys paid for it, I thought I should return the favor.”...”
Still alive and kickin’ at the age of 20, but tired of his life as a full-time gambler,
a female acquaintance convinced him to go to Paris and work the model circuit. She offered to let him stay at her hotel room in the arrondissement Les Halles, but after two and a half weeks and no sign of work, he left Paris. That same night back at home in Germany, he received a phone call telling him that a top designer, Anthony Young at Falke, wanted him back in Paris the next day for a big job. He returned, did the job and decided to stay, eventually doing side work as a model scout, broadening his horizons to places like London, Miami, Milan, Barcelona and Berlin. After a year more of Paris, he got tired of the fickle fashion world and its amorous colateral trappings and moved back to Germany.
6. Hustling sunshine
At 23, GM took off to the Spanish island of Tenerife for yet another shot at a job abroad, real estate sales. Given an apartment by the company at the onset, he caught on quickly and soon distinguished himself from the other 30 recruits, working hard his first five sunny months learning the ropes, only to be told that the firm had gone bankrupt and could no longer pay his rent, let alone what they owed him as a salary.
Upset, but not undaunted by the news, he spent the next 6 months sleeping rough in clubs, streets and local parks. At this juncture, he turned to his art to keep his mind stable and a few coins in his pocket. He hustled up a few cans of spray paint to bring mere scraps of cardboard to life and made erotic sand sculptures to milk spare change from tourists. He kept at it until he was given a second chance to prove himself at another real estate track.
Not one to lack confidence when the chips are down, he asserted himself to the managers of another track and convinced them to give him three months of room & board and watch the money roll in. It didn’t, he’d hit a slump. A top salesman took a shine to him, though, and taught him the real tricks of the trade which in turn catapulted him back into the world of easy-money enticements, ego-waxing smooth talkers, on-the-run conmen and muscular psychopaths.
He knew that the company was caught between relying on him at his sales peak and being highly suspicious of the fact that he might be lured away by the competition. This double-edged sword added to the ample adrenaline pumping through his veins. The lifestyle he had chosen was revealing its limits, like a seductive brew with danger as an aftertaste,and that aftertaste was getting much too strong.
GM reestablished himself back in Germany in 1999 and moved into his folks’ place to reassess his life and plan his next move. He realized that he needed big money to do the art he’d envisioned, so he busied himself with modeling jobs, television spots, minor acting roles and everything that is required for testing models (styling, hair & make up, and general arrangements). He also became a director for a Harlequin show that did productions throughout Germany, all the while spray painting “a lot of walls” at night, djing clubs and painting nude models.
He felt more grounded at this point, with life’s adventures finally giving way to a refocusing on his art. He sculpted his first serious installation with “Heads”, a display of 30 cernit busts of people in his orbit at the time- enclosed in individual glass cubes with
a light show, which also included a one track cd of his own music for buyers. However, his efforts to move and show his work became more and more frustrating.
Disgruntled with the capricious attitude of gallery owners, he avoided galleries altogether, preferring not to be tempted by the influence of any other artists’ work. Making full use of his free time, he modernized his entrepreneurial skills and put two of his new businesses, a custom- tailored suits shop and bicycle store, online.
Shortly there after, he dove wholeheartedly back into his artwork and soon his focus became effortless, you could say a sparkle of innocence, even a feeling of vulnerability was in the air.
GM’s eternal need of conceptualizing and transmitting his countless ideas into art started to bear fruit- as his volume of work grew at an accelerating rate entering the year 2008. He held exhibitions and sold many works, lavishing the praise given by his new admirers. For the first time in his life, he was getting a taste of what it was like to live from one’s art, and he revelled in it, feeling that adrenaline-tinged momentum that comes from dedication, tenacity and the acknowledgement of work well done.
8. Universal communication
As five years of artistic growth increasingly warmed his soul, GM suddenly found himself preparing for battle again, this time against a virtually unknown disease, something from way out in left field, as 2013 came to an end. It was his big round 2 in life and it gave him a 6 month warning with mild symptoms, then hit with full force. By the time the summer of 2014 approached, he wasn’t able to get out of bed at all, at times. He recalls days when he’d forced himself to go to his workshop. It was that or just lie in bed like a “swollen stickman.” But as soon as he began moving and working again, he forgot about all of the pain, it disappeared. It proved to him once again that art can truly heal.
In 2019, after grappling 6 years with this second morbid black cloud, GM, adequately medicated and back on track, came to the conclusion that having his own gallery was the only way to ensure a constant display of his work, so he installed himself in a local train station just outside of Zürich in December 2019.
He was more than eager to plan his first exhibition at his newly acquired studio and buried himself in work preparing everything for a May premier, but three months later- Covid hit.
Down again, but never out, GM made full use of 2020 with a particular focus on
a pop culture comix series(digital collage format), somehow alluding to the superhero power that we all need at times to get through the tough spots in life. Included are the “G” series, “Out of my planet” series and more, plus the resin molds of “Dollar boy”.
GM is currently at work on yet another explosion of thoughts in his mind’s universe, getting more art pieces out, out of his system and into this realm as we know it.
“...The explosion of the universe, I guess it’s called the Big bang, well that, ...that was the biggest piece of art ever! Think about it, cave people from millions of years ago were scratching stuff on walls, doing their art with what they had at the moment, sticks and rocks, communicating somehow, ya know? That’s just more proof that we need art, we need it because we are all an art piece from that work, that first explosion of the universe. Everyone’s gotta let their art piece out...”