17 février – 28 mars 2014
Memory of Stone
Collages and oil paintings
“Memory of Stone”
A change of countries at a young age, the experiences of an American education in Creative Writing and International Relations, Swiss studies in stained glass and visual arts, paired with her personal quest for a very personal artistic expression have been shaping the life of abstract, multitalented painter Naomi Middelmann
Talking with Naomi Middelmann is like looking through a kaleidoscope. Every time a facet changes angle an interesting new perspective appears, whether touching upon her colorful development from working on the launch of a magazine in New York to becoming an artist, her intuitive process of painting, the materials she uses or her multilingual life in a mixed cultural family.
“I began writing poetry when I was seven years old,” Naomi says. “Writing came naturally to me and I wrote all the way through (Johns Hopkins) university.”
However, with time she realized that words alone were not enough to describe what life and its multiple changes meant to her. The need to be increasingly physically active with her hands became more prominent. She required ‘drawing, collage and painting’ in order to narrate about what was important in her own existentialism: to be ‘authentic and a-cultural.’
“I began to paint with my hands and feet again, like we do in early childhood” she remembers. “I never know what the outcome will be and always create a series of several pieces in a certain color or style.”
To break from her career in publishing and by means of an experiment Naomi began to work with glass. What started out as a project of a few months became a two-year stained glass adventure at the Ecole Supérieure de Création et de Vitrail in Monthey. Off and on her teachers invited different artists to lecture on composition, enabling the students to become more free and spontaneous in composing and designing. Several painters encouraged Naomi to move from a very technical to a more creative side of things.
She took their advice and went to the Visual Art School in Basel. During her Basel years she was completely let free and began to work with different media, developing a style all her own in which movement became very important. The physical aspect of creating also developed in the process. Naomi began to add all kinds of tangible matter to her paints such as paper, sand, bitumen and ashes.
What aspect of her work does she love most? Naomi’s answer is clear: “drawing. I use lots of paper, lots of space and usually work on the floor,” she explains. “It is a true process. First I lay out many pieces of paper that have an interesting shape or texture. I choose the ones that appeal to me most and glue them onto the canvas. Then I begin to draw lines and paint. I am always looking for something new. We tend to repeat ourselves if something looks good, but doing that we are no longer authentic.”
Naomi’s work stands out because of its clear and strong gestural lines interspersed with bold blocks of color: bright greens, deep burgundy reds, earth tones and greys. Though the focus is mostly on abstract creation, sometimes figures, shadows, contours of images and elements drawn from nature appear in her work as well.
Even though she strives to keep an open and personal style Naomi is aware of the fact that we are never completely alone in what we establish.
“No artist operates in a vacuum. As creators we are always working with or against a certain trend and by doing so we are in a dialogue with each other all the time.”
In “Memory of Stone” we will see a preference for earth tones such as sand, brown, grey, beige, red ochre, ‘terre de Sienne’ and black. Naomi’s bold lines are always clearly present, painted with a pure energy.
Enjoy the show!
“Memory of Stone”
Mixed media on canvas and paper
Show: February 17 – March 28
Vernissage: Thursday, February 20, 18h00 – 20h00
Location: Building ELA, room 010
Information: www.astie.epfl.ch or call 021 691 1188