In Mimei Thompson’s paintings the reality of everyday images shifts in and out of focus; from vegetables, insects, animals, minerals and landscapes – everything has an unquestionably alien and hallucinatory appearance. She is a Tokyo-born British oil painter interested in the fluidity of movement and shifting between the unconscious, myths, dreams and what seems to be mundane. Her pictures juxtapose the grandiose and the banal, conventional with obscure finding inspiration in Max Ernst‘s surrealism.
Mimei Thompson’s Paintings
Thompson was born in Tokyo to a Chilean mother and American father and has been living in Sudan before settling down in the UK. Moving around like this left a feeling of multiplex identities and no limited cultural–geographical attachments, but as well, a certain longing for authenticity or origin.This uprootedness is one of the main subjects of her paintings and can be traced in numerous ways. Her paintings of rocks, weeds, human and animal forms amongst abstract paint marks and lines show leaps from fantastic to the known. Both representational and process-based these oil canvases manage to capture all the subtle differences of the in-between-state they depict on.
Mimei Thompson’s Process of Work
Thompson studied photography in Glasgow first, after which she earned an MFA in painting from The Royal College of Art in 2005. But a specific quality of developing photos can be traced in her paintings as well. She explains her methods: The paintings go through a liquid stage, where the whole surface is covered in a fluid mix of paint and Liquid medium on a smooth, non-absorbent surface, and that gets moved around and worked into while it’s all still liquid. The estranging effect comes from the visibility of the dominant brushstroke on her characteristic luminous white, pale grey-green or lilac-pink backgrounds. Exploring the way the ordinary becomes fantastic, Thompson inherits this fundamental dichotomy to her process of painting – showing how images levitate between the edge of growth and exaggeratedly visible brushstrokes. In 2013 she had her first solo exhibition at Art First Projects in London entitled Lunar Asparagus, borrowing the name from Max Ernst’s sculpture.
Alien and hallucinatory appearance of mundane objects
Year 2013 was also important because of her Cave painting series in which she dwells with the cave imagery as a representation of the unconsciousness. Being fascinated with the theme of metamorphosis she sees cave as a space of possible transformation, a place with strange, vivid rocks that sometimes look like a little creature, pertaining the same subtle hallucinatory effect that is her hallmark style. With hues of emerald, violet, lavender, ghost-like silver or cadmium yellows creates a translucent pseudo-reality of her own. Her most prominent exhibitions since then are: solo shows at Trade Gallery, Nottingham in 2014, The Year of Sleepwalking at Art First Projects, London, Flies in My Eyes at Queens Park Railway Club, Glasgow.
Mimei Thompson lives and works in London, UK.
- Burrows, W, Decidedly Alien: The Paintings Of Mimei Thompson, The double negative [March 20, 2017]
Featured image: Mimei Thompson -Solo exhibition Lunar Asparagus – Installation view – Image courtesy of artfirst.co.uk
All images used for illustrative purposes only