In Between: New pictures by Miro Zahra
by Peter Funken

What can painting portray and depict today? What is its significance for understanding reality and presence? Which aspects of reality, presence and understanding of the world can painting describe in the face of the vast production of pictures in films and videos, on the Internet, in photography as well as their hybrid forms? And - freely adapted from Cézanne - what is there left to paint when everything has disappeared? An exhibition of works by the artist Miro Zahra (* 1960) is currently offering insight and information regarding these questions and other issues at the Schwerin State Museum.

The artist, who lives in Plüschow near Grevesmühlen, is exhibiting pictures which are located in the mindscape of poetics and technology, science and aesthetics, at the museum in Schwerin, which is one of the best in North Germany. Due to the circumstance that none of the aforementioned spheres dominates completely, the significant yet diffuse aspects to be found in her work give Miro Zahra's painting a special rational attractiveness and intellectual thrill which make one curious and encourage one to look closely at it and think about it.

In her pictures the artist describes a reality which is fascinatingly beautiful: Painting mainly in oils, she shows up the special areas of nature and the world - or, more precisely, forms of a microscopic and macroscopic order - which are in some way direct parallels to scientific methods of illustration and representation. In her painting the forms are invented, but they were inspired by nature and implemented artistically according to Miro Zahra's observation and appreciation of nature.

In her paintings the artist looks deeper and further than the very strongest
microscopes and telescopes because in her art she does not act objectively or subjectively, but draws entirely on (her) own inspired ideas and an awareness of form and of nature as a model.
Therefore, Miro Zahra's painting is not about the surface, but about the structure, not about colour but about matter and not about statics but the process.  No matter whether in painting or the installations, two of which are to be seen outdoors just near the museum, in her art she shows the change in the repetition and how the element relates to the organisation (of the picture).

While some of her pictures are reminiscent of (photo)graphic, electronic and spectral-microscopic representations of cell structures, proteins or genetic material, ultimately it is about venturing into a cognitive space which Miro Zahra grasps as itself being part of a natural and creatural whole.

To the artist, who grew up in Prague and has been living in Germany for many years, and is at the same time director of the residential art centre Mecklenburgisches Künstlerhaus Schloss Plüschow, her occupation with nature is of great importance and takes place not just in precise, technically complex experimental painting, but also in an all-encompassing involvement with the questions behind the concept of time and space, and thus ultimately questions of eternity, truth and the mind.
If one follows the immanently philosophical approach of her art, one obtains the clearest expression of the intellectual principle of nature and its processes. This idea is not new. Christian mystics like Meister Eckardt already pointed out this connection. And in the art of the Romantic Period - for example the work of Caspar David Friedrich - the idea of nature as inspired by God became the committed new approach for the individual to relate to God and society. But Miro Zahra paints no mountains, forests or lakes. She reveals inner landscapes, psychic spaces and spiritual territories. This puts her in a tradition of abstract art which begins with Kazimir Malevich, Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian and which - since the Forties an Fifties of the last century - has been guided towards radical forms of expression by such artists as Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt.

In the light of the question as to how culture, sensitivity, transcendence and contemplation can be credibly represented in pictorial form in a culture which is unequivocally materialistic, Miro Zahra's painting indicates new dimensions and possibilities, names contexts (precisely regarding scientific pictures) and she masters the task in hand in concreto and an exemplary manner.