Miriam Vlaming


The artist Miriam Vlaming always keeps the whole picture in mind, in her mysterious images. In fact, there can’t be many people who tackle the big questions. Miriam Vlaming is one such. She prefers an aesthetic that hovers in the interval between doing and done, between the past and the now: “It’s the interruptions and contradictions that interest me… the moment after or before something happens… not the big story.” Her images constantly evoke landscape, enlivened with hints at nature and human figures in scenarios that prove highly fragile, right to the point of dissolution and abstraction. Many of her paintings have the look of old, faded and badly damaged photos, whose subjects are so unclear, they can only be guessed at – regardless of whether they were discovered in old albums or are current images found in print media or online.

Susanne Altmann has designated the artist a “visual anthropologist”. Indeed, Miriam Vlaming is obsessed by questions about what we take in and what we think we’ve known for ages. She is just as keen to use the visible world as random photos that take her fancy. Unresolved questions open up a space, both for the artist and viewers of her paintings, where they can construct stories of their own. It’s an open form of story-telling which does not specify anything and which stresses the temporary nature of the process.

The images and concepts in Miriam Vlaming’s art serve to enlighten and confuse at the same time. Truly striking: With Miriam Vlaming, the technique she applies to her paintings is an analogue counterpart to their content. The informal application of layers of egg tempera allows lower layers to gleam through in places, and many areas are dissolved with turpentine and wiped off, thinned paint is made to run off at angles and islands of paint offer glimpses into the deeper layers. All this prevents her images from being read clearly. Sometimes, her fondness for photographic records of her own rejected former artworks allows them to serve as backgrounds for a new start; they’ll be covered over, but not entirely hidden. Layer by layer, she inserts yet another story onto the picture. That way, her pictures become an archive of earlier working processes. The viewers are obliged to create associations between these sediments.

The metaphors that this artist plays with have many meanings. They are also playing with her public, which clings to what it can see, and yet loses itself in her images. It’s always about their spiritual state, which they find reflected in her artwork as a result of her painterly process. That’s because Miriam Vlaming has created a cosmos in her pictures, one that touches and moves us. Paintings that hang between heaven and earth, and which do not let us go. They are pictures which lead us back to our own natures, and cast us back into ourselves, to the very core of our beings. This is surely the reason why Miriam Vlaming’s pictures are distributed around the world, in museums and collections: they meet a deep human need for insight.
— Martin Oswald (Excerpts)