Stux Gallery is pleased to present Psychic Readymades: New Paintings by Miki Carmi,
on view through Saturday, January 21st, 2006. For his first exhibition at the Stux Gallery,
Carmi, a recent Columbia MFA program graduate who was born and raised in Jerusalem,
explores the details of human physiognomy in an attempt to construct a contemporary icon for the
human condition. Through the elimination and subversion of the basic logic of portraiture such as
class depiction and narrative scenarios, and by “castrating” the pictorial space through the
removal of hair, neck and torso, Carmi creates an uncanny correlation between the surface of the
face and the surface of the paintings.
These monumental portraits are textured and reveal a palpable, sculptural quality. The highly
impasto veneer rises and falls with every wrinkle, vein and age spot. Set on a background of
thick white paint, heightening the drama of these intense monumental scale portraits, the
viewer is drawn to the minutiae of the face; the reflective surface of the glistening eyes and
moistened lips. These details, however, give way to what is of paramount importance, the
gaze. It is the idiosyncratic and personal in the universality of the gaze that Carmi works
hardest to capture and it is that which casts a glow over the paintings as a whole.
Carmi’s process is consistent yet complex. Working from literally hundreds of family
photographs strewn about the floor of his studio, Miki paints several portraits at one time,
moving from one canvas to the next, belaboring over the works until all of the portraits have
an engrossing and compelling presence. He does not paint from the photographs directly,
however, he uses them to reintroduce memories of people that he knows in person in depth.
These “memories” are reinterpreted often into three quarter views that further distort the
individual identity of the subjects. The final portraits are a collection: mother, father,
grandfather, grandmother and self. During the course of painting, identities shift and realities
are lost to reveal underlying truths.