Countdown to Launch & Exhibition: ‘Objects of Desire’

10 artists, 10 weeks-Week 7. Midge Naylor

It was Midge’s small painting ‘Max Ernst’s Trampette’ hanging in the 2011 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, that drew the attention of Spectator journalist Andrew Lambirth.

Revealing her sharp wit and dark humour, this particular painting represents Midge at her best. There is a suggestion of a dense dark forest. A small red circle hovers in front of the trees. In the foreground is a strip of white ‘clearing’ with a roughly scratched shape, the ‘trampette’ of the title.

This reference to the surrealist painter Max Ernst brings to mind his painting ‘Forest and Dove’ painted in 1927 that in turn stirs a childhood memory of my own deep fear of the woods.

The Tate gallery display caption for the painting reads:

‘Forests appear frequently in Ernst’s works and recall his feelings of the ‘enchantment and terror’ of the woods near his childhood home. Forests are a potent symbol in German tradition, and were also adopted by the Surrealist group as a metaphor for the imagination’

The dark in Midge’s paintings has fascinating depths. Where there is light it is rendered as subtle and soft like moonlight on water.

She declares a desire to eliminate the horizon but she is a natural painter of dark brooding landscapes inhabited by strange shapes, suggesting furniture or machinery. There are tall ‘cliffs’ or large clumps interrupting the view. The horizon is either very near the bottom or the top. ’Skies’ are grey or black. There are many layers of paint, scuffed, scraped and buffed. They reveal an intense psychic search for, in her own words, ‘formal unity’.

Ruth Piper

August 2012