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Miriam Cahn

Essentially a painter and designer, Miriam Cahn rapidly gained fame after having studied at the Gewerbeschule in Basel from 1968 to 1973. The Kunsthalle of her native city presented her first solo exhibition in 1983. The following year, she represented Switzerland at the Venice Biennial and then regularly exhibited her work in different European and international institutions. She now lives and works in Basel and the Val Bregaglia, in the Canton of Graubünden.

Her aesthetic universe, both fascinating and disconcerting, is filled with indistinct presences, fantastic beings, hybrid plants, animals and androgynous faces swathed with an intense luminous halo. The enigmas which play out in her sketched scenes are tinged with sexual allusions and feminist considerations, but also with fear and violence, particularly through the sombre evocation of the armed conflicts that have punctuated the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries.

Freed from any reasoning that is too pragmatic, her instinctive and visionary artistic approach is based on subjectivity, free association and the emotional charge which governs the creative act. Alternating colour and black and white, Cahn fluidly shifts between styles and mediums – photography, drawing, painting, collage – which she then gets to interact, without any hierarchy, in her dense hangings that she meticulously prepares, and which consist of sets of works involving varied formats, techniques and periods. Nothing is decorative or superficial in her work, everything is charged with a strange and persistent essence that seems to haunt her images, as though irradiated with an incandescent energy. Her complex oeuvre, liberated from any concessions, confronts us with the dark facets of our human condition.