New Paintings is the first exhibition of the New York based artist Jay Miriam (1990) at Gallery Ornis A. While Miriam graduated art school recently, her expressive and colourful oeuvre shows a consistent and strong visual quality. A selection of her paintings, which Miriam created after her graduation previous summer at Carnegie Mellon University, will be shown in Europe for the first time.
The protagonists of Miriam’s canvases are solitary figures, elder women, clowns and dancers. Some more detailed than the others, they all appear indistinctly to the abstract backgrounds. These characteristic figures of the clown and the ballerina are rooted in a tradition of painting. However, unlike many of her nineteenth and twentieth century predecessors, Miriam never works with models or actual images. Instead, she always paints by heart. She can be intrigued by an expression on the face of a person walking next to her in the street. This moment is then transformed into a symbolic representation. ‘How One May Feel At Work (Cllic Clic Clic Clowns)’ (2012), a highly expressive painting with three clowns, is for instance inspired by the ‘mad’ energy around Wall Street during the beginning of the financial crisis. Yet in their new shape, the paintings never refer directly to their moment of origin, creating hereby space for other interpretations.
For the artist personally, the figure of the ballerina symbolises movement. Miriam translates the movement of the dancer into the process of painting. In some cases Miriam explores the possibilities of the material in advance by producing sketches, most of the time painting becomes an intuitive process. Scenes appear spontaneously on canvas and colours are selected along the way. Many of the paintings, for instance ‘Ballerina in Drag’ (2013) and ‘Horizontal Vertical Figure’ (2012), can be characterised by an impressive texture of layered pigments. Here Miriam succeeds in creating a third dimension by illuminating details such as hands with expressive brush strokes.
The exhibition at Ornis A. Gallery uncovers Miriam’s experiment with style. The selection of works presents a variety of expressions; from for example the primitivist dark contours in ‘Reclining Nude’ (2013) to the abstract collage style in ‘French Fuck Birthday Card’ (2012).
As a result, and as the titles of the paintings illustrate, the paintings show a multiplicity of atmospheres; from melancholia to comedy and even sarcasm.