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This winter, Max Mara debuted a new collection of eyewear, done in collaboration with New York-based painter, Maya Hayuk. Last fall, Whitewall caught up with the artist about working with the Italian fashion house to create the “Optiprism” collection.
WHITEWALL: We read that you don’t sketch or use computers, so what’s your creative process like?
MAYA HAYUK: I rely heavily on my intuition and I spend a lot of time listening and looking while working. I consider the space, time and light of where I am and the purpose, function, limitations and possibilities of what I’m doing. I like to think of my paintings as drawings, meaning that it’s happening for the first time. In other words, the painting is the sketch. I work on a few things at once and I have a pace that is rhythmic and almost methodical when I get into a certain groove. The imperfection/ perfection of my hand and the feeling that the painting could go on forever are both essential to my approach.
WW: How were you approached for this collaboration? What made you want to do it?
MH: Max Mara as a fashion house has a longstanding commitment on modern and contemporary art, that has been translated in many ways so far: through the beautiful Collezione Maramotti in Italy, in it’s recent partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art for the opening of the museum’s new downtown Manhattan location, and also the Art Prize for Women in collaboration with the WhiteChapel Gallery in London.I wanted to collaborate with the brand to celebrate the restyling of their eyewear collection because I felt it would be a project that could link art and fashion and give life to new interesting results.
WW: What came to mind when you heard the title of the project, “Optiprism?”
MH: The title “Optiprism” came from a friend who pulled all of my ideas for the painting together into one word. I meditated on Max Mara’s iconic prism shape and discovered what it represents to me. I thought a lot about optics and seeing the world through frames – in whatever form. Initially, the painting was about varying points of view, so I repeated the same shape with distinctive color combinations and textures. Out of this rhythmic pattern, an unexpected optical shift fortuitously emerged. Optiprism also playfully references the Italian word ottimismo, which translates to optimism.
WW: What was it like working with Max Mara in comparison to your large-scale public works?
MH: It was wonderful. I love the physicality and endurance it takes to make large-scaled paintings outdoors. I love the sanctity of my studio. The elements of time, light, scale, surface, architecture all inform the work itself and the conditions of large-scale works can make art-making feel like an extreme sport sometimes. The inverse/opposite is true in my studio where I can work at a different pace while wearing slippers. I need both practices to make either satisfying and they are ultimately one practice.
WW: You’ve collaborated with fashion designers in the past, do you want to continue to mix your art with fashion?
MH: Fashion and art have always been intrinsically tied together – they play off of and with each other, so the collaborations seem natural and organic. I’m constantly imagining clothing, objects, patterns, etc., I’d want to put into the world, but my focus is primarily on developing my painting practice.