Miriam’s paintings are poetic, magical, sinister and sublime. They depict a world of dream-like landscapes and forests that host a cast of folkloric symbols and characters, each with their own stories that progress across the different paintings. Naïve, hallucinogenic and individually enchanting, as a group the paintings work like an autobiographical epic, a labyrinth of micro-narratives for the viewer to explore.
The other-worldliness of Miriam’s paintings is subtle, indebted to surrealism but with a lighter, slighter touch. Like the first steps of a fairy tale, it is by following the trail of understated visual details that the strange, unsettling quality of this Garden of Eden becomes apparent. Dark is inverted to light; light itself becomes concentrated into orbs that float like speckles of snow, or streams of stars, beyond and between the trees; horizons disintegrate, proportions distort; a visible wind blows the narratives from one painting to another. Throughout, the landscapes are charged with a silent intensity, that half-light and heavy weather of the moment before the storm breaks.
Within this dreamscape, different characters take shape and develop. Particular to this body of work is the horse of lights that first appears on the edge of a field of reeds, on the cusp of a looming storm, resurging later on the edge of a swamp in ‘black electric’, lurking in the background like a recurrence in a dream. Other symbols follow their own paths. Cyclamen flowers blow from painting to painting like an echo of sexual excitement; a white cord binds characters to nature, and the paintings to each other; lakes swollen with the milk of human kindness glow against the night sky. All combine to create an autobiographical landscape where the artist’s experiences are transformed and sublimated into a personal myth and folklore.
As such, while Miriam’s work and her visual language may sit within the context of new romantic painters such as Peter Doig or Neo Rauch, her agenda is quite different. Rather than exploring symbolism from a temporal perspective (such as the politicism prevalent in much German painting or re-interpreting the moment of the photograph), Miriam uses her paintings to re-examine the function of metaphor in story-telling, and how this in turn can be used to digest personal experiences whilst simultaneously articulate common basics and values – relationships to nature, to each other, and to our own experiences and memories. This sincere, animistic approach to painting goes to the very heart of visual story-telling, and marks Miriam’s work out as a truly exciting exploration of painting’s more fantastic possibilities.