Offstage and without makeup, Maxim is far from the brutal persona behind the bone-crunching act that has sold more than 25 million records. The tattooed singer, born Keith Palmer in Peterborough, England, has been discreetly painting for years. Now, under the name of MM, he has held his first exhibition, “Lepidop Terror,” featuring huge images full of butterflies. “It started when I caught a moth in my studio,” he says in an interview. “As I cupped it in my hand I thought to myself, ‘how do I know what this moth is thinking of?’ If it had a sword or knife, would it be stabbing me?” He started drawing butterflies with samurai swords and hatchets, and pondering whether they are gentle, aggressive or acting in self-defense. “I am trying to create the ying and yang in the paintings,” he says. “There are so many angles you can look at it.” Maxim sees the butterflies as symbols of life, death, rebirth and reincarnation, as incorporated into the work of artists from Salvador Dali to Damien Hirst. Skulls are also one of the most regular motifs in his collages. His butterfly characters have grimacing skull faces. Piles of skulls hover across the canvases or pile up on the canvas. (Maxim’s own body is covered in a tapestry of skull tattoos). “I don’t associate skulls with being evil. I associate it with being part of you. I think they’re beautiful.”

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