‘It’s Society’s Problem, and That’s Why It’s Interesting’: Artist Miriam Cahn on Painting Controversial Subjects in an Age of Correctness

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‘It’s Society’s Problem, and That’s Why It’s Interesting’: Artist Miriam Cahn on Painting Controversial Subjects in an Age of Correctness

At the age of 72, Miriam Cahn was still furious and has always inspired her artwork.

“People can get furious every day? Look at the news. That’s the daily material I’m interested in,” she told Artnet News. A Swiss artist spoke while preparing to win the Rubens Award in the city of Siegen, Germany, on June 26th. Past winners include Cy Twombly and Francis Bacon. On this occasion, Kunstmuseum Siegen features 50 years of artist work in an exhibition titled “Meine Juden” (translated: “My Jews”), which is on display until October 23rd.

Feminist and so-called “activist artist” Khan, who has turned to political and social conflicts, touches on hot issues and evokes their ambiguity and complexity. This is often nervous — perhaps even more nervous in times of crisis. She has spent decades relentlessly Awake viewer To Fear to worry our Mankind and its vulnerabilities.

In her figurative paintings and descriptive drawings, she is a sexual violence, war, migrant refugee, And women’s empowerment, Among other subjects.Gender is ambiguous and a ghostly body appears Lost in a barren landscape or run away Mothers and children drowning in deep and beautiful aqua blue.. The dullness of the eyes and grin on the canvas is reminiscent of a confused smiley face. Elsewhere, the bright red genitals are raw, completely Exposure.

Miriam Cahn, gefühl beimschlafen 18.2.2022.. Artist, Meyer Riegger, Berlin / Karlsruhe, Jocelyn Wolff Gallery, Paris, Photo courtesy of: Heinz Pelz

Incorporating a work is never easy. As a result, she has been widely recognized relatively recently. At this year’s Venice Biennale, you’ll see a large installation at the Cecilia Alemani group show “The Milk of Dreams”. Her work also appeared in Documenta 14 in 2017 and is included in the Tate Modern in London, the Queen Sofia Center for the Arts, and the Pinault Collection in Paris.

Still, despite becoming one of Europe’s most important artists, many Outside the continent, she has just begun to discover her powerful canvas. “Some people say they can’t see the work at first, it’s too violent, but ten years later, the same person comes back and feels she’s a great artist, but there’s a journey.” Sandrin Gelett is the director and partner of Gallery Joselin Wolf, who represents the artist alongside Berlin’s Meyer Leaguer. However, “for others, it’s immediate, they say: this is life.”

Miriam Cahn, dasschöne blau 2021 + 10.1.2022.. Artist, Meyer Riegger, Berlin / Karlsruhe, Jocelyn Wolff Gallery, Paris, Photo courtesy of: Heinz Pelz

Work method development

Throughout her career, Khan has maintained an apology-free approach. And she looks like Khan suddenly became famous, she I actually have A long history of major exhibitions, including their early presence in European institutions and their involvement with the community of feminist performing arts in the 1970s, such as Valie Export and Marina Abramovic. Kahn, who lives and works in the mountain village of Stampa, Switzerland, participated in the Venice Biennale in 1984 and was invited to Documenta 7 in 1982.

A picture of her early protest, Being a woman is my public artThe work done on charcoal at a public construction site in Basel in 1979 and 1980 is a testament to her long-standing practice of using public forums to promote social issues.Her original work To make it difficult to see her paintings, some show naked bodies with blatant and rough sexual contact. Her 2019 retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts Bern reportedly warned her visitors that “this exhibition can hurt your feelings.” Kahn puts it aside. “It’s not my problem if people have a hard time seeing an erected penis. It’s a social problem and that’s why it’s interesting,” she told Artnet News.

Even though the artist’s fast pace of work (her work dates back to the day they were made), she moved away from most of the large black charcoal paintings done on the ground with her whole body. Developed and maintained early on, to the colorful oil paintings she is known for today. Speed ​​is “very important because it comes from the performance art scene of the 1970s and 80s,” Khan said. “The body more or less determined the speed and duration of performance [in those works] I thought it was very interesting. “

Rubens Award 2022 Gegenwartskunst MGK Siegen Exhibition Museum.Miriam Cahn "Maine Juden." Courtesy: Artist, Jocelyn Wolff Gallery, Paris, Meyer Riegger, Berlin / Karlsruhe, Photo: Philipp Ottendörfer

Rubens Award 2022 Gegenwartskunst MGK Siegen Exhibition Museum. Miriam Cahn “Meine Juden”. Courtesy: Artist, Jocelyn Wolff Gallery, Paris, Meyer Riegger, Berlin / Karlsruhe, Photo: Philipp Ottendörfer

She discovered her instinctive way early on when she gave herself for five years to test whether she was selected as an artist. “To make art, you need to be able to compose your daily workload,” says Kahn. “And no one tells you what to do.” She wanted to make sure she had The driving force and direction of that lifestyle.. If not, she said she was planning to become a designer.

Eventually She quickly found the rhythm of her work. That’s what she said she was short and “very focused”.Kahn suggested about a young artist trying to make it in a more difficult economic situation. Trying “If possible, open up a year or two where you don’t have to chase money.”

“Art is slow in itself, so you need enough time to find out what you want to do and how you want to work,” she added.

Miriam Cahn, ot 15.11.2021.. Artist, Meyer Riegger, Berlin / Karlsruhe, Jocelyn Wolff Gallery, Paris, Photo courtesy of: Heinz Pelz

What has taken the world of art so long?

Perhaps many weren’t ready for Khan until recently. Movements like #MeToo and BlackLivesMatter, as well as the immigration crisis and the war in Ukraine, have contributed to a wider sensitivity to the subject Khan has long discussed. She will hold a major solo exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris next February.

“as if [her recognition] It came all of a sudden, but it happened because of the work that went on to get there, “said Djerouet. The director confirmed that the price of Khan’s work had risen. Medium-sized pieces currently cost between $ 50,000 and $ 105,000, and large installations cost over $ 1 million. This happens as a cluster of paintings, similar to what she is exhibiting at the Venice Biennale.Meanwhile, Djerouet said Cahn’s work began to appear. a bit More often at auctions this year, at a price a bit Higher than the primary market.

yet Flowing activity she Paintings counter the recent wave of political correctness or cancel culture.. “BLM is great, but it’s wrong the moment a white artist (a distinction I already think is stupid) says he can’t tackle problems that are directly related to blacks, and the same thing. This also applies to #MeToo, “she said, adding that such a progressive move itself is” very good “but should not be oversimplified. In her art, “we have imagination. It may be reality, but it doesn’t mean it’s realism,” she said.

ミリアム・カーン、<i>Schnell Weg!</ i>Courtesy: Artist, Meyer Leaguer, Berlin / Karlsruhe, Joselin Wolf Gallery, Paris, Photo: Heinz Peltz “width =” 1024 “height =” 794 “srcset =” https://news.artnet.com/app /news-upload/2022/07/Cahn_schnell_weg_27._30.1.2021_Pelz-1-1024×794.jpg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/Cahn_schnell_weg_27._30.1.2021_Pelz- 1-300×233.jpg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/Cahn_schnell_weg_27._30.1.2021_Pelz-1-1536×1191.jpg 1536w, https://news.artnet.com /app/news-upload/2022/07/Cahn_schnell_weg_27._30.1.2021_Pelz-1-2048×1587.jpg 2048w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/Cahn_schnell_weg_27._30.1.2021 _Pelz-1-50×39.jpg 50w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/07/Cahn_schnell_weg_27._30.1.2021_Pelz-1-1920×1488.jpg 1920w “size =” (max-width) : 1024px) 100vw, 1024px “/></p>
<p id=Miriam Cahn, Schnellweg! 27. + 30.1.2021. Artist, Meyer Riegger, Berlin / Karlsruhe, Jocelyn Wolff Gallery, Paris, Photo courtesy of: Heinz Pelz

“I react as a Jew,” Khan said, but “only when something pretty anti-Semitic happened.” In the current exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum Basel, Khan is her. We are working on the senses of others and the act of escaping associated with the Jewish identity. It also addresses the topic she frankly talked about, anti-Semitism. The title of the exhibition called “My Jew” is her continuation Announced critical response at the end of last year Despite questions about the source of some of the works that may have been obtained from Nazi victims, in the new building of the Kunsthaus Zurich dedicated to the art collection of Nazi weapons supplier Emile Bühlbühl.

She generally blamed cancel culture, but eventually tried to withdraw from the Zurich Museum collection. After the museum representative Swiss Jews concluded that they were not oppressed during the World War II conference.That artist I was angry By what she called a “false” statement and a case of “historical blindness.”she He offered to buy back about 30 of her paintings. “It was so much that I started reacting violently,” she said. The agency refused, but her proposal was “a bomb that evoked many reactions,” she said.

Indeed, Khan feels that it is her “duty” to evoke the suffering of others in her signature, empathetic way. “If you have the privilege, it may be my Jewish side to tell it to myself. [such as freely making artwork in the Swiss Alps] Then it is your duty to comment on the pain of others. And again, she said, “Think: it might be me.”

Miriam Cahn’s exhibition “My Jews” will be held at Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen until October 23rd.

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