Extract Abstract presents two bodies of work built up over the last six years that map our urban fabric with unexpected results. Looking through Maag’s first group of images is a treasure hunt in search of figures and forms that spring out from unexpected backgrounds. Usual relationships of background and foreground, scale and surface are temporarily suspended, allowing creatures, shapes or gestures to emerge. The second group is, at first, more challenging. They guard their secrets tightly, and the viewer scans the surface to find the origins of these striking pictures, like the fiery orange glow around a darker circle, or waves of grey striations. In fact, Maag’s works only gradually reveal their visual and cultural inheritance. He is a trained professional photographer who precisely knows the mechanics of his craft who is now exploring how his experimental photography operates in a fine art field. As a result these photographs owe a lot to Maag’s training and experience, both in terms of technique and in terms of observation or opportunity. They equally owe a debt to his involvement in skateboarding culture. Skaters – and Maag has been one for some two decades – continually scan their urban environment, reading its textures and planes. Their interest might be in how they could utilise it for tricks, yet this habit brings about an intimate engagement with the material of the city. What is more, the skater registers the city as a social organism: what is permitted and forbidden, what lies fallow and which areas are busy, when does it ebb and flow. Even more so in Maag’s case, as he documents fellow skaters and is continually thinking about how movement in an urban framework translates into image. Maag’s urbanity is likely not an environment we recognise. Isn’t this the beauty of what a city can offer? Here is a concentration of people so that a multiplicity of practices, cultures, groups and activities can flourish. Look at Maag’s images closely, then look more closely at what surrounds you.
-The Trace Gallery