From Octobre 21 to December 9, 2017, Galerie du Forez presents a personal exhibition of the British-Israeli painter Mira Kliger.
Throughout the centuries, artists from many countries have used biblical themes as subjects of their works. During artistically fertile periods such as the Renaissance and the Baroque, religious themes were central to most artists' endeavors. With the advent of secular societies, this widespread and, one could say, overused tradition became more marginal, although important modern and contemporary artists have continued to concern themselves with such themes, on a more or less regular basis and in sometimes indirect ways. Whereas in the works of Chagall or Kandinsky religious subjects take center stage, in the case of Picasso, for instance, these themes are present only occasionally. Contemporary artists have a complex rapport with religion. The videoartist Bill Viola, for one, uses classical biblical images to express deeply held religious beliefs; others, such as Maurizio Cattelan or Andres Serrano, have used a more detached and controversial approach to religious themes.
The British-Israeli painter Mira Kliger has chosen a somewhat different manner of dealing with the religious subjects to be found in the Holy Books. In the case of Kliger, these subjects are seen through the eyes of someone who learned the stories of the Old Testament as part of history books taught in schools. Having grown up in a land where the ephemeral joys and hassles of everyday mingle with the eternal, where the language, the names and the looks of sites and places are heavily loaded with ancient meanings, Mira Kliger treats the biblical themes as part of daily life. Her story telling is straight forward and unassuming and completely devoid of complacency. But there is to it a sense of irony mixed with empathy, imbuing her images with a bitter-sweet aura.
Kliger's characters are average people, with foibles and ambitions, living their regular lives. There is nothing hieratic about them -as one may have expected on the basis of traditional depictions of the biblical characters they are supposed to represent. The connection between them and the biblical stories hinted at by the works' titles is established through places and situations. The little girl in "After the Storm" stands on the debris of destruction, determined, against all odds, to cuddle her doll; in the "Crossing of the Desert", a desertified landscape is populated by soldiers and hurried business people, as if it were the downtown of a modern city; a stylishly dressed Hagar fusses over her baby in front of an oriental looking dwelling; Adam & Eve are a self-confident, upwardly mobile couple ready to hold on at all cost to their place in Paradise... There is an intrinsic connection between these average, regular people and the biblical stories they are meant to embody: these characters inhabit the stories in their natural settings, rather than merely illustrating them.
Mira Kliger lives and works in the UK and Israel. She graduated from the prestigious Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem. She illustrated for the newspaper Ha'aretz and for the women's magazine At, published by Ma'ariv. She built a successful career in advertising and design with a major advertising agency in London, working for clients such as L'Oreal. She also created and illustrated "Leonardo's Studio", a pop-up book for the National Gallery in London.
Mira has exhibited in a number of personal and group shows. The Galerie du Forez presented a series of her drawings in 2014, in a one-person exhibition entitled "The Longing Body".