ceramics now magazine
When making the ceramic objects I was reminded of a childhood scene. When I was young and we went to the River Tisza on holiday, my favourite game was to fool around with the wet sand of the riverbank. I liked to watch the watery silt first losing its sheen in my hand, then go dry, and finally display another quality in it’s cracked and whitened form. This is a basic experience to me, which has determined the roots of my attitude toward painting and sculpture. I like to imagine that in the prehistoric age the process was the same during the birth of the first works of art. This is the feel I am looking for in my work in general.
In my university years, after making a lot of graphic prints and studies, I formulated a need for a kind of creation/possession of objects. This was the main motivation behind my moving to Munich to work on ceramics.
I wanted to have something that had value in itself, without being furnished with the amount and locked behind a frame.
I immediately warmed up to ceramics, where works are enduring but mouldable in all respects.
First I planned to realise five or six designs, and their building was preceded by a long preparation. After being confronted with the characteristics of the material, getting to know its nature, several options opened up for me. I was liberated from my fear of making errors and at once felt the product to be my own.
There is a vast number of variations in form and colour, and there is always the opportunity to incorporate new elements and combine surfaces and effects.
I can be a creator and a viewer of my work at the same time because when after baking I open the door of the kiln, I have to face my work as well as the contingency of the material.
The forms used in my first sculptures ( between 2014-2017 ) are based on a simple observation of nature. Therein reappear the treasures of natural museums, loved and visited by me, such as the structure of minerals and rock, the details of prepared displays under glass and the transparent innards of amphibians in formaldehyde.
I strive to create a sort of personal Wunderkammer. What I deem important in these works is the duality manifested on the borderline between inviting, vibrant proliferation and revolting yet natural decomposition. It is in this frontier zone that I imagine these works, and pair up formal elements with colours and surfaces accordingly.
I think that the atmosphere and the mood of the works can awake in the viewer any inviting and repulsive feeling also. This observation is interesting to me. This is the border between the full of life prurience and the deadly rot. I find my works interesting if, I can balance in this border with them. I build up my works for that ambivalent aesthetics, and I search that values in other artworks.
Around 2014, when I first made ceramic sculptures, it motivated me to have my little objects, small treasures. I didn’t want to illustrate anything specifically, I wanted the association of the spots on the prints and the shapes appearing on the sculptures to start in the viewer. I didn’t want to make characters specifically, I rather saw into the abstract shapes afterwards, a figure at a time.
From the very beginning, I made small “toy figures” for my own entertainment. These toys based on my favourite animated films and videogames. These figures only fit on the shelves of my wall, even so, they are very important to me. The finished characters don’t quite look like the original figure, they just evoke a good memory in me.
In early 2019, my attention turned to installations. I wanted to build my work around a specific theme. I wanted to add new references to the new works, it was an inner need of mine. In addition to the world of natural history museums and palm houses that I like, I wanted to bring in other possibilities for interpretation. It was then that I decided that I would also like to gather inspiration from the 3d environment, models and atmosphere of computer games, which I am well known for my leisure recreation, and incorporate certain motifs into my toolbox.
Due to the metallic colours used in these series, the rough forms, and the large-scale installation, it can be associated with an imaginary cave/crypt that exists in the context of a computer game at the sight of the works. This was to make me feel like someone is contemplating the virtual space of a game. It was very exciting for me because I usually look around a lot in the environment of games, I’m always more interested in a piece of equipment than the main plot of the games.
This gave the idea to the project name “dungeon & dragons”. I was satisfied with the title because it describes well my feelings about the workflow and the sculptures that have been completed. For me, this project was topical because I was disturbed by the unanimity of the conventions and expectations dictated by my society, I wanted to give a different/ more conscious rhythm to my own life and get rid of the prescribed patterns, and I noticed in my environment that someone else needed it then. Began to be preoccupied with social phenomena, patterns that showed that the distance of the individual from reality had become significant. This can be seen in action either in the bubbles of social media, in watching large volumes of series/cartoons, in the existence of different traditional companies/ subcultures, or even in the growth of the video game industry. Withdrawal in any form is possible. Each generation turns away from everyday reality in different ways, my age group is perhaps best characterized by migration to virtual space. For me, this phenomenon is very interesting because it can be paralleled with artistic activity and turning away from the usual way of life.
In addition to games, I always pay attention to flaming trends and objects/ phenomena/ music performers/ brands that are currently in the focus of interest.
I collect inspiration for my latest sculptures from many places. I condense my favourite patterns I found during my virtual or real reflections into my work. Thus, it can happen that a character, basically from Chinese mythology, mixes with the language of the cartoon form and appears in rhyming colours with the world of current running shoe fashion. It gives me a lot of formal freedom that the use of these ingredients is often not pre-planned, often basically not even conscious, the fragments essentially mix spontaneously by me and meet each other in a given job. So, decoding the connections after the firing process is also a kind of game for me and carries the already mentioned surprise experience.
Mira Dalma Makai's Solo Exhibition
Art+Text Budapest Gallery
14th November 2018—7th December 2018
Captured in the deep blue, highly reflective glaze covering one of the ten bulbous protrusions of the wall-mounted ceramic piece titled Claws and Leaves XXVIII. (2018), the viewer appears in the midst of the artwork. Surrounded by a miniaturised mirror-image of Art+Text Budapest’s exhibition hall, the observer is diminished to a microscopic scale. Focusing on this impenetrable surface is rendered impossible, as the heterogeneous expressions divert our attention. As we lose our mirror-image in this inhabited microcosm of glazed ceramic and let our gaze wander around, unseen creatures emerge and dissolve.
Between bright highlights and dimly lit slithering reflections a group of sharply pointed gestures swim past in another piece from the same series (Claws and Leaves XXII., 2018). Focus, unfocus. The red and blue colours of the glaze on the claws ooze back into the depths of the yellow and pink leaves, creating a heated debate of colour. Makai collaborates with chance and the physical reality of paint and heat to create the most intricate details, making her opus exist on at least two distinct levels. The artistic decisions are finalised by the natural processes that are an inherent part of the medium. Due to this, the artwork can be read both as thing and process.
Makai restricts the tools she uses to her hands, to mould and shape the clay, and a simple butter knife to cut back the growths that sprout from the cylindrical or rectangle-shaped bases. Thus creating remnants of larger spatial gestures, cut sections that reveal the contrast between the luscious homogeneity of clay and the rich alterations of substance that differentiate the tactile reality of the surface. These subtractive decisions create instances of perfect flatness, discontinuations of organic form, an almost mechanic smoothness. An insight into the material: a wound. Makai complicates this by painting over these cuts, symbolically sealing and healing them, or contrarily opening them up.
There is a type of beauty at play here similar to the aesthetics of scientific photographs, which alienate and disembody the observed object. This is the “sea change” of the close-up: when what is in front of us turns into “something rich and strange” just by the sheer fact of our proximity. The dichotomy of strangeness and familiarity is also at stake in Makai’s personal iconography, letting every element become identified as something similar to claws, leaves, shells or gems, but never precisely named and thus remaining ambivalent: somewhere between the unknown and the materialised.
In the main room of the exhibition, there is a group of artworks titled Columns. The installation of these magnetic monstrosities suggests an autonomous space for the viewer to interact with. They are built up from modular units, but all of them display distinct characters. Due to the gashes that tear up the walls of the sculptures and the open top in some cases there is a communication between outside and inside, that lets us peek into the depths of the columns. It seems impossible to leave our gaze in this darkness, as we are drawn back to the exterior, to the myriad of glistening and radiating glazes.
This surface is not without danger. We are caught again.
 “Ariel’s Song” Scene II. of Act I. of William Shakespeare: The tempest