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Max Patte, the man behind Solace in the Wind, debuts Wellington exhibition (Gallery) (Video)

Artist Max Patte and his work "Set Adrift on a Binary Bliss" part of his new exhibition, The Max Patte Experience.

He's the artist responsible for the Wellington waterfront statue that launched countless gropes and photos.

But Max Patte's first Wellington exhibition, The Max Patte Experience, is a chance for people to see his work beyond the naked, bronze statue, "Solace in The Wind".

Patte arrived in New Zealand in 2006, seeking a break from the London rat race.

Having had a successful career in film working on the likes of Batman and Harry Potter, it was not too long before he snapped up a job at Weta, where he would eventually become the company's head of sculpture.

His boss, Sir Richard Taylor, became a keen patron, allowing him to use the workshop's facilities for his own work.

As the end of his working year in New Zealand drew near, the area near Te Papa became a place for contemplation.

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Timelapse of sculpture Max Patte's work at Matterhorn.

"That particular spot had a lot of meaning for me. I began to think about the life I'd left in London and what lay ahead, thinking I wouldn't return to New Zealand."

The artist felt the desire to leave his mark in the most fitting way - a sculpture, one that represented him emotionally rather than physically.

"I basically sculpted that as a souvenir for myself after the first year spent in New Zealand.

"I've been saying I'll go back to Europe for the best part of 9 years, but every day something keeps me busy here."

Solace was bought by Wellington City Council in 2008 for $60,000, when it became a permanent fixture to Wellington's waterfront.

It also marked a turning point in Patte's life and work.

Solace, a rather lonely, naked statue, leaning out vulnerably towards the elements, was embraced by the public.

So much so that it picked up the People's Choice Award for favourite sculpture at the Wellington Civic Trust awards in 2008.

Since then, Solace has been dressed up, used for awareness campaigns and a diving springboard, been tweeted by Stephen Fry to his millions of followers, and fallen victim graffiti.

Not that Patte minds too much.

"I would be interested to see them in 10 years covered in graffiti which has then worn away like a second skin," Patte once said of Solace and fellow statue Reflection.

Solace in the Wind surpassed any of Patte's expectations..

"To see what he's become is incredible, I see images of him all over the place, every week, selfies and some really beautiful shots."

Patte describes the statue and the ones that followed as "emotional portraits", pieces that echo his own moment of contemplation and reflection at the waterfront.

His work is now found in public and private collections throughout the world, the patron list boasting names like Sir Michael Hill and Sir Ian McKellen.

But stylistically and conceptually, Patte says he has moved on.

His work at Weta became more part-time as the size and amount of his own work increased.

This eventually meant finding his own space and focussing on his own work.

His new exhibition, The Max Patte Experience, at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, reflects his exploration with new technology.

He gained inspiration for his Lightworks from the skies above his home on Wellington's south coast.

The light installations require a unique "micro-controller" which adjusts the colour of the art over a four to five hour period, to change the mood of the space.

The concept is based on the ancient study of man, anatomy, proportion and our connection to all things. Patte explores this idea of connection through ratio, colour, material, changing light, and dimension.

"All of my work is a response to a space. Solace in the Wind was a response to a particular space, these light works are, in a way, the same kind of thing.

"I aim to provoke an emotion in the viewer, the same as Solace in the Wind."

The exhibition will also feature new sculptures including a 185cm tall titanium figure, for which Patte teamed up with New Zealand company Zenith Tecnica, which owns possibly the world's biggest 3D titanium printer.

Without the 3D titanium printer, Patte says it would have been near impossible to create the new work, as it allowed him to produce parts with far more complexity.

"It's cutting edge stuff and has only been possible now, and I think it's important to create art that speaks of the moment and using what's available to us."

The Max Patte Experience runs from September 12-27 in Wellington and at Auckland's Allpress Gallery from October 15-24. Patte will give an artist's talk on September 26, tickets $15 from Wellingtonnz.com.

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