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Galerie Dukan exhibits works by Miriam Vlaming
Miriam Vlaming, Human Nature, 2016, Egg tempera on canvas, 30 x 40 cm, Courtesy Galerie Dukan.

PARIS.- Galerie Dukan is presenting Miriam Vlaming’s (1971) first solo show «Eden».

Miriam Vlaming, one of the most important representatives of the “Neue Leipziger Schule”, was born in 1971 in Hilden, close to Düsseldorf. In 1991 she started studying Educational Science, Psychology and Sociology at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf. However, in the course of time Miriam got more and more attracted to art and therefore, she decided to transfer to the University of Graphic and Book Arts in Leipzig. She was even lectured by Arno Rink, one of the great masters of the “Neue Leipziger Schule”. In 1999 Miriam graduates with distinction and becomes Rink’s master student for two years. Owing to her training and figurative adjusted work she gets ascribed to the “Neue Leipziger Schule”, just as Neo Rauch and Matthias Weischer for instance. However, Miriam decides to follow a special way within this art direction: she exploits the limits of abstraction to the fullest, more than many others situated in Leipzig. The structures of a complex “Malakt” (an act of painting) play a significant role in her paintings, which are made of egg tempera and appear on giant canvases. Sometimes, the figurative – Human being, landscape and the material thing – seems to be woven-in by the painting. Multilayered works are created in the double sense, which suggest an insight into foreign spheres and worlds. This, in particular, stems from the individual colorfulness, which often varies in one ground color, along with special artistic, shimmering structures. After graduating, Miriam takes on a teaching assignment (2001-2003) and in 2011, she teaches at the 14th international summer academy for graphic art in Dresden. Her art paintings have become part of various international solo exhibitions. Among those, the show “YOU PROMISED ME” can be emphasized, which took place in 2008 in the Art Hall Mannheim, which gathered around 50 paintings. Furthermore, Miriam Vlaming’s art works have been adopted by several important public collections and museums, including the Von-der-Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal, the ALTANA cultural endowment, the art collection of the Deutsche Bundesbank as well as the company collection Robert Bosch GmbH. Miriam Vlaming lives and works in Berlin. --Text: Dr. Agnes Thum Translated by (D/E) Anna Kittlinger

Field Research in «Eden» carried out by Susanne Altmann
Miriam Vlaming has worked as a visual anthropologist for a long time, particularly through the use of photographic models. As well as family portraits, group photographs, supposedly homely idylls, handcrafted ornaments, marginal architecture and additionally gardens, belong in her repertoire. Her artistic interpretations enhance, disguise and generalise, while commenting on these motifs. However, she was never distracted by narrative content, and remained a passionate painter. I believe that, if Vlaming was pushed to decide, she would always sacrifice the legibility of her paintings for experiments with light and colour. Still, she ruins surfaces which appear idyllic, while staging the canvas effectively as a palimpsest of injuries and non-formulated scraps of memory. In Vlaming’s early works, which she created in Leipzig, she creates a unique angle of artwork, which constantly draws the viewer into the medium of pure painting, through the dynamic swirl of non-objective elements. In this respect, Vlaming remains true to herself. In «Eden», her latest production, to solely concentrate on the exotic phenotype of her protagonists, would be to do her an injustice. Nevertheless, the current cycle emphasises Miriam Vlaming’s interest in the unknown other. This could be a delicate matter, if considered in the debate on postcolonial image worlds. This debate, if held in a controlled environment, would completely prevent the enjoyment of exotic topics. The view on the other or different certainly belongs to the wealth of pictorial forms and has done so since ever. If we only think about the fascination of the expressionist Brücke painters for African masks and woodcarvings from the South Pacific, or the longing for Asian culture, painted by French members of the avant-garde. As attractive as those approaches might have been, there were always contemporary illusions of a paradise involved, which- in a western civilization- only existed as a projection. A paradise without quotation marks. When Miriam Vlaming is working with the term «Eden» today, she carries the ambivalence between astonishment and sarcasm. This even begins with her well-tried method of including existing artwork into her paintings, now with extended cultural and ethnic references. Within her subjects, she quotes the production of images of the «white man» and his camera. But instead of a critical comment, in this case, the painting takes over. Miriam Vlaming vehemently re-establishes the autonomy of the then portrayed, who are looking into the lens with either justifiable mistrust or true willingness. She emphasizes moments of the foreign and sinister and creates a new, self-confident aura, that cleverly infiltrates our western stereotypes. Aggressively and ironically exaggerated masks and costumes as in «Uncle Freak» or «Initiation» seem to reverse role relations. Viewers might feel slightly uncomfortable, almost like objects of observation. Her composition of patterns, vegetation and visual hyperboles, provides the subjects with a certain re-framing, a new frame; or according to anthropologist Christopher Pinney: She is looking through a kind of «anti-camera» and chooses a technology of depiction that is contrary to photography. Unlike numerous other field working conceptual artists, Miriram Vlaming does not assume theories. However, she does not have to do so. She achieves powerful and highly relevant final results solely due to her picturesque intuition. She succeeds in both the artistic recapture of a field which is mined with discursive tripping hazards, as well as the emancipation of ethnographic iconic documents, and often dubious contexts of the work’s creation. The closest to conscious embedding into critical reflection she gets, is with her series «Human Nature», where she paraphrases the arbitrariness of gender and ethnic identities in 12 variations of one face. The smallest variations of complexion, lips, noses or lids automatically request classifications. Proficiently, Miriam Vlaming transfers the viewer‘s own and superficial prejudices: prejudices, which often and automatically involve dramatizing differences instead of determining similarities. Especially in light of the current debate on the foreign and its perceived threat, the comparatively economic series appears as an appeal to our common sense. Insofar «Human Nature» can be read as a leitmotif, which promises the vision of a prospective, global «Eden». ---Susanne Altmann, May 2016

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