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Miriam Libhaber

The Synthesis between Art and Architecture 

Woman posing next to her artworks laid on a table

Miriam Libhaber is a Mexican artist and architect. She grew up in a Yiddish-speaking family of Polish Holocaust survivors and is currently based in San Diego, CA. She is known for her colorful city landscapes and abstract paintings, which contain deep meaning and are widely recognized worldwide.

Born Miriam Tabachnik Edelsztejn in 1951, she was the first generation of her family in Mexico City. She had a passion for painting from a young age, but initially, her artistic pursuits led her to architecture. After eight years of working as an architect, her desire for creative expression eventually induced her to shift her focus entirely to painting. She honed her skills at UNAM/Mexico.

An interpretation of Chapultepec Castle by Miriam Libhaber

Miriam Libhaber is known in many countries around the world. She has had more than 30 individual exhibitions and 200 collective shows in her practice. She has been awarded six acknowledgments in Graphics, including one award for a painting Biennale in Caracas, Venezuela. She has participated twice with selected ceramic pieces in the Utilitarian Ceramics Biennial at the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico. Some of her works belong to the art collection of Buenos Aires Engraving National Museum, to the art collection of the Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Arts in the USA, as well as in Mexico, to the cultural heritage of the Claustro de Sor Juana and the Cultural Institute of Campeche, among others. In 2012, she published her book Reference Points, containing more than 70 images of her monoprints, as a collection of emblematic buildings from Mexico City.

 

A surrealist painting by Miriam Libhaber, where buildings float away on boats beneath a crescent moonlit night

Miriam’s paintings are recognized for their bold colors and distinctive style. The first medium she worked with was oil painting. However, working with it requires a lot of time to capture specific emotions of moments in life. Therefore, she began exploring many different mediums to find the best one. She studied different painting techniques in many other studios with various great teachers. Her next choice was engraving, which was a little faster and allowed her to create many copies of the same work, but it still took quite a while to develop and was toxic. The right choice came with her discovery of the monotype. “Monotype is such a fast way of doing what you want. Whatever result came out from the press is your painting. You cannot change anything. It is very loose, you have to do it very fast, you cannot wait.” (Miriam Libhaber) That is why most of her work is done with monotype. Recently, she started incorporating new techniques into her practice, such as acrylic painting and pouring.

Miriam was born and raised in a Jewish family. Yiddishkeit has a significant influence on her life and art journey. Her parents, Jose Tabachnik and Sara Edelsztejn, were from Poland. “Both of my parents survived the Holocaust. They got married in 1939, at the time Nazis were already inside Poland. For their honeymoon they went into an underground house where they hid for one year, and then moved to Mexico, that is how they survived the Holocaust. We were Jewish with lots of fear” (Miriam Libhaber). Even though Miriam grew up in a multicultural society and had friends from different religious backgrounds, Yiddishkeit was always present and valued in her family. Miriam’s collection of “Traditions” showcases an extraordinary combination of Yiddishkeit and Mexican culture, blending deep elements of Jewish heritage with Mexico’s rich and colorful traditions.

a couple, man and woman, holding a girl child

Even though Miriam stopped working as an architect, she did not lose her love for architecture. It remains her main inspiration for her work. However, another critical factor in her works is colors. “When I paint the Mexico City landscapes, people understand that it is Mexico because of the shape of the building. So, in this collection, I want them to recognize buildings through my color. The building can be gray concrete, but I will paint it yellow or orange. It doesn’t matter; I paint whatever color I want.” Which makes her collection of Mexico City landscapes and City Delights bright and unique.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Miriam moved to San Diego to be with her family. This relocation inspired new artistic themes. She started inventing her art in a new place. “The idea was I moved with my “cities” to San Diego by boat.” (Miriam Libhaber). She created collections featuring boats and bridges, symbolizing her journey and adaptation to a new place. After that, she felt that she was established in a new place, but there was still one important task to do – rescue traditions. That is how her collection “Traditions” happened.

Nowadays, Miriam Libhaber continues her creative practice, inspired by life. “I am grateful for life. Art gives a life.” She continues to explore new ways to depict her ideas. Her most recent works were performed using the pouring technique and were inspired by the situation in Gaza and the war between Israel and Palestine.

Daria Maksymenko

Art Gallery Assistant Intern

Additional references about Miriam Libhaber can be found below:

https://www.libhaber.com/formation

https://www.libhaber.com/bio

https://www.libhaber.com/exhibitions

https://www.libhaber.com/news