Mira Makai | Innovative masterpieces

Interview D. Foertig
puplished on
January 7, 2021
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Green Genie | 2020 | 40x40x50 cm | Glazed ceramic | Image credit: Mira Makai

Mira Makai creates true wonders out of clay

Artist statement

When making the ceramic objects I am reminded of a childhood scene. I was young and we spent a holiday by the River Tisza, in Hungary.

My favorite 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 basic experience planted 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 feeling I usually am looking for in my work.

During 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 with ceramics.

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Mira Makai | Studio view

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 and really moldable in all respects.

First I planned to realize five or six designs, and their creation 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 became liberated from my fear of making errors and at once felt the product to be my own.

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Happy Pineapple | 2020 | 40x40x50 cm | Glazed ceramic | Image credit: Mira Makai

When I first made ceramic sculptures, it motivated me to have my own 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 begin in the viewer.

I didn’t want to make characters specifically, I rather saw into the abstract shapes afterward, becoming a figure with time.

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Dodgeball | 2020 | 150x108 cm | Acrylic on canvas | Image credit: Mira Makai

There is a vast number of variations in form and color, 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.

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Treasure Hunt exhibition view | Four Rooms gallery | 2020 | Image credit: Mira Makai

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.

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Chasing the ball | 2020 | 150x108 cm | Acrylic on canvas | Image credit: Mira Makai

In early 2020, my attention turned to figural compositions. 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.

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The Gate | 2020 | 200cm x180 cm | Textile and ceramic installation | Image credit: Mira Makai

It was then that I decided that I would also like to gather inspiration from the colors of the current running shoe fashion, the pop-cultural fragments, the 3d environment, models, imaginary creatures, and the atmosphere of computer games, which I am well known for my leisure recreation, and incorporate certain motifs into my toolbox.

Moth II | 2020| | 80x90x15 cm | Faux fur and ceramic | Image credit: Mira Makai

We asked Mira a couple of questions

When and how did you find out you are an artist?

It emerged through several decisions.

First of all, I started my university years at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in 2011. I studied in the printmaking department.

After my degree, I lived in Budapest, and I used to work in shared studio spaces, but I did not really like that mood. At that point, we decided against life in the city, and we moved to the countryside.

Now we have enough space for working and storing also.

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Treasure Hunt | Exhibition view | Four rooms gallery

Where do you come from, how did that influence you?

I was born in Budapest, Hungary. But the biggest influence came from moving to the countryside.

Here I found my daily routines and balance. For example, long walks with our dog and the overall mood of the seasonally changing flora and the environment inspiring me every time.  

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Lost and found | 2020 | 150x108 cm | Acrylic on canvas | Image credit: Mira Makai

Where, when and how do you work best?

For me, the best workplace is my studio. Fortunately, I live and work in the same house. There are two separate flats, so I can arrive at my workplace super easily.  

In this place, I have every opportunity to work with different materials. It was a big challenge to organize my own ceramic studio, but I really enjoy the advantage of my own kiln and infrastructure.

I like to work alone and absolutely quiet. I love those moments when I can immerse myself in a workflow.

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Beast | 2020 | 170x150 cm | Textile and ceramic installation | Image credit: Mira Makai

How do you get inspired?

I like to spend my time in botanical gardens, palm houses, and natural history museums. In addition to museums, I always pay attention to flaming trends and objects/ phenomena/ music performers/ brands that are currently in the focus of interest.

“An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing.” -Louise Bourgeois

I collect inspiration for my latest sculptures from many places. I condense my favorite found patterns during my virtual or real reflections into my work.

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Unseen creatures | Exhibition view | Art+Text Budapest | 2018 | Image credit: David Biro

Thus, it can happen that a character, basically from Chinese mythology, mixes with the language of the cartoon form and appears in rhyming colors 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.

“ The role of art is to accept that things break down. That is the only way to get something new to emerge.” -Per Kirkeby

So, decoding the connections after the firing process is also a kind of game for me and carries the already mentioned experience of surprise.

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Tiger King | 2020 | 40x40x50 cm | Glazed ceramic | Image credit: Mira Makai

From the very beginning, I made small “toy figures” for my own entertainment.

These toys are based on my favorite animated films and video games. 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.

I use this attitude in my working method also. I learn through these figures how to express a characteristic gesture in my own sculptural language.

Mira Makai | Studio view

What are your newest projects?

I am planning an exhibition this year for a bigger industrial space. We will start the negotiations and the organization soon with the non-profit gallery. I would like to work with installations and paintings in this one-roomed exhibition space.

I really enjoy mixing the materials within one installation. Faux fur and soft textiles against the hard-faced ceramics.

I hope I will summon some kind of furry reptile or dragon creature with the parts and shapes of this new work. This show with Acryl paintings and installations will be my biggest project in 2021.

No Man’s Land | 2018 | 80x80x30 cm | Ceramic installation | Image credit: David Biro

What are you working on currently?

At the moment I am working on figural group compositions. In these sculptures, the main motive is the ball. Everything circulates around that small glowing sphere.

The figures around this ball are always fighting for it, they want to admire it, catch it, lick it, and dominates the other opponent.

Follow the artist on Instagram:

Ongoing and upcoming shows:

Current exhibition:

Title of the solo exhibition: Treasure Hunt

Exhibition duration: 11.12.2020- 01.02.2021

Venue: Four Rooms Gallery, Budapest,1077, Wesselényi Street 17., Hungary

Curator: Zsofia Danka

Planned/upcoming group exhibition:

Title of the exhibition: Material narratives: The Odradek Effect

Venue: Kunstverein Eisenstadt, Austria

Curator: Barbara Horvath

Opening: March/April 2021

Exhibition duration: March-May/June 2021

From us, at the Munchies art club, a very big thank you to Mira for letting us share her work, and making it such a wonderful experience to work with her!

Further article on Mira Makai

Contemporary Ceramics