"Liberty" Bahrain Delegation, UNESCO, Paris, France, 2017.
Liberty is a 500cmx250cm red pigment and pastel drawing inspired by the French painter’s Eugène Delacroix’s painting “Liberty leading the people”. Once again the artist Mariam Haji chose to re-enact a classical painting from European art history. In this case through emotion and intense colour the artist aimed at referencing the past to illuminate the present communicating an Arab woman who does not rely on intrigue to achieve her ends irrespective of rank and status. Conjuring up feelings of Power, of Liberty and of “Victory”.
2018 Works in Progress
“For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction. Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing.”
“Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows - then let your heart say in silence, ‘God rests in reason.’ And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky - then let your heart say in awe, ‘God moves in passion.’ And since you are a breath in God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.”
- Khalil Gibran
"The Victory" Bahrain Pavilion in the 55th Venice Biennale 2013 .
The Victory is an 800cmx300cm Charcoal drawing and was commissioned by Shiakha Mai Al Khalifa for her private collection to be exhibited at Bahrain's first participation in the Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale 2013.
It is inspired by Regnault, Henri with his 1868, Automedon With the Horses of Achilles and so the Victory becomes a reinterpretation of a heroic figure with horses. Mariam Haji, in this case, replaces Automendon as the female figure who leads forward barefoot on a donkey. She is embraced by a stampede of confused horses as she rides forward. The artist uses strong symbolism with intentionality to speak about the Female Condition.
In addition to Gender, this large drawing emerged within Mariam relative to Arab identity and associated with the cultural conflicts young artists are facing in the Arabian Gulf as they emerge to become a part of a larger international Contemporary Art movement comparative to European art history.
'The Victory' in it's drawing technique plots to visualise that European art history colonizes the minds of emerging Arab artists, as they aspire to find a voice within their cultural transformations.
First prize winner in the 38th Bahrain Annual Fine Art Award, Bahrain National Museum, Bahrain 2012 and produced in 2010.
The Muse Series consisted of two 2m x 1.5m drawings. It is a reinterpretation of an Islamic tradition practiced in Bahrain called ذبيحة "Thebiha" which is an animal sacrifice symbolic of the laying down of a person's will and ego in return for a blessing from God. In some occasions this act is also referred to as a نذر "Nedther".
'Kill the muse' is the self portrait of sacrifice and 'Freedom from the muse' is the metaphorical cleansing/exorcism of the Artist.
‘Postlude Vol.1: The Post Oriental Odyssey, The Mine Gallery, Dubai, UAE, 2015
In these studies the artist chooses to portray scenes of God's radiance in sublime heavenly glory with violence. These studies hope to visualize the carnal nature of humanity in religious beliefs.
'Premonition', Exhibited at the Bait Bin Mattar House Museum, Muharraq, Bahrain 2012
Consists of two large-scale canvases. The larger painting is of the artist wrestling with a lion, oil on canvas, size 7m wide x 5m high and the second painting is of a lion being struck by light, oil on canvas, size 5m wide x 4m high. Both share qualities akin to the aesthetics of Renaissance art.
The main focus in these paintings is in the symbolism accompanying the lion and a modern Middle Eastern perspective critiquing women in Renaissance Art. Mariam's artworks aim to challenge if not reverse the roles where the female turns from being an object of neither holiness nor desire into a confrontational mortal character.
Premonition embodies the representation of the artists constant struggle with her spirituality and carnality.
Commissioned by the Ministry of Culture of The People's Republic of China, 2015
1mx1m canvas with Ink, Acrylic and a large Chinese calligraphy brush.
This work is based on recurrent dreams that the artist had about water and rain in the nights prior and during her visit to China. The Ink drawings were created as a live public performance on canvas in the Beijing rain, which upon drying were later adjusted with white acrylic paint and fixed with varnish.
Sculptural adaptation of drawing practices. 2011 (Not exhibited)
Exhibited at Third Space Gallery, Helsinki, Finland
A humorous critique on Hummus.
‘Across the Gulf’ Exhibition, Brisbane Arc Biennial, Australia 2009
The Artist performs drawing her own self portrait on her face.
Takt Artist Residency, Performed in TamTam8 Gallery, Berlin, 2011
When the Audience becomes the Art maker and the Artist becomes the Art Object. Mariam Haji explores ideas on mortality, suffocation and death.
‘Army of Mariam’, Spring of Culture Festival, El Bareh Gallery, Bahrain 2009
"Army of Mariam" is a sculpture installation that forms a representation of the power and will of women. As a female artist, birth can be seen as analogous to creation. This procreation is now "Army of Mariam".
The "army" is an army of women, which is something that essentially doesn't exist, or at least doesn't exist in terms of the pejorative associations we have with an army. The artist holds on to the image of her placenta back in her mother’s uterus only to find the secrets of immortality and armies of women from descendants past.
Mariam's Army is a product of Mariam's psyche and is not employed for destructive power or war. "Army of Mariam" fights another type of war; they're their own psychological entity in battle and are not part of mankind. These characters are portraits of real women from the Artists's family chosen to be part of her army; they extend themselves as women who take control of their will. The strategic use of paper was intentional to replicate the degenerative decay of flesh. Paper also served as a metaphor for emotional vulnerability; an object that does not resist damage.
The production of this army satisfies more than a sense of imagination and making Art; rather, it creates a dialogue between the artist and her personal attachment to her mother's uterus.
"HANDLUNGSKEIT" meaning the willingness to Act is a reenactment of Vale Export and Peter Weibel's "Aus der mappe der hundigkeit" in Vienna 1968. This was performed in Bahrain with Artist Alessandro Rauchmann.
Studio Practice (Sculptural Process 2008 - 2010)
Made from paper, medical surgery pipe and stitching materials. These sculptures are internally lit and manually connected with visible electrical copper wiring and miniature bulbs. There have been some instances where the audience gets a mild electric shock from touching these sculptures.