Tips for Gifting Someone Your Art This Year

On April 22nd, Roberts Projects in Los Angeles will open Love Story, an exhibition of paintings by Sydney-based artist, Mia Middleton. This exhibition will be her first showing with the gallery. On the occasion, Middleton wrote an essay on the works in the show, shared below. For the viewer, Middleton’s small-scale paintings capture a tension and threshold between conscious and subconscious, desire and aversion, reality, and fantasy. In these intimate freeze-frames, ephemeral moments are stripped of their context and suspended in time, intimating a narrative without creating one and inviting viewers into a psychological framework of uncertainty and discovery.

Lately I have been thinking about the body, about our physical and emotional bounds, and the thresholds we breach, transcend, and transform over our lives. As with all of my work, the elusive language of the body and the psyche are woven together with the immensity of life beyond our sensory perception or logical reasoning. I think of my paintings as pinpricks of information alluding to a larger whole that we can only guess at.

Dualities are a constant fascination of mine. For this exhibition, captivity and release take center stage; we oscillate between the necessities of possessiveness and openness in every part of life. We expand our threshold for growth and experience by making deep commitments to values, people, futures, and yet simultaneously, life and self are constantly evolving; we cannot hold onto things forever for fear of loss and unknowns. There is a balancing act in there that no manual can help with, even intuition can get it wrong. It seems we are destined to trip up in this dance, and that is part of the whole performance.

In a world where ideals and absolutes are delivered to us daily through devices, we barely control, what does it look like to surrender to imperfection, embrace discordance and ephemerality, or center our animal experience once again. There is certainly much discomfort there. In Love Story I am evoking a scene that takes place in a remote setting. The figures there are poised for pleasure or pain, movement, or stasis. It’s hard to determine. Domesticity mingles with wildness, simplicity with complexity, and through it, the body sits in the balance.

A love story is a potent ideal. We look for an answer to ourselves, something through which we ascend – or escape – our physical bounds. Yet despite this hopeful belief, we know that purity can shatter, giving way to less transcendent feelings. It seems clear to me that there is little difference between reality and fantasy, memory and imagination, and a story can evolve in meaning continually over time. Using the body as the container for this mutability, Love Story is a place where a gesture, a stance, a look, a possession, becomes the whole world, if just for a moment, before shifting again. —Mia Middleton, 2023

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