After my first phone call with Max Jurasch, I had the feeling I could conjure up a whole essay on interdisciplinary art based on our 30-minute conversation. We talked about creative expression, the suffocating creative smallness of Austria, the urgent need for provocative political art, how to remain on top of the game, and avoiding rudderlessness in the harsh floods of the creative industry. 

Max knows what he’s talking about. He’s a veteran of graphic design—an awardwinning, highly acclaimed illustrator, designer, and photographer. As he says about himself, almost humbly, “I make old school graphics.” 

That’s the core. His center. Craftsmanship, design precision, and visual perfection are the principles of his work. In all disciplines, under all circumstances. He worked for many years in corporate design and left a lasting imprint there, but after decades, he wants to remove himself from the world of marketing and focus on creating art, without the pressure of clients and focus groups, and the struggles of the dog-eat-dog world of advertising.


The perpetual return of “the new,” to cite Walter Benjamin, is nothing to write home about. It’s good that Max found a way to secure this freedom, but he also knows that many artists aren’t that lucky. It remains the most important task of an artist to find a balance between latecapitalist, precarious living and living your dream. 

I’m glad that we could convince him to design the front page of this issue of THE FREE LUNCH. It’s a funny image—heck yes!—but it feels like a blunt object hitting your head, cracking it open. It’s a merciless, twisted juxtaposition, like an unbalanced version of The Planet of the Apes that managed to tear the fabric of space-time and infect our dimension. But it’s not a dark fantasy, it’s true or kind of true. Art is a means to run far, far away but never leave the house. And our simian know-it-all president is a perfect visual sucker-punch in our battle against the infodemic. Yuge! 


The Trumpish ape also reminds us of one of Max’s long-term projects, but this one is way more kind in its message. It’s the creation of a whole new planet. By randomly dealing with fantastic visual worlds, Max conceived the idea of a new, immaculate world. The visual realms comprise combinations of our existing reality but create new zoology. Max shares an alternative perception and the visualization of it—the planet Pakaja. As good old Carrie “Princess Leia” Fisher once said, “I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” 

Here’s to you! —Johannes Grenzfurthner


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