Cornelia Justice       Norfolk,Va. Ledger Star Art Critic    

October  31,  1975

  “A Palme that thrives in a metaphysical hot house”     

   Walk up a long  flight of marble stairs, straight into the world of fantasy & make-believe that is the Norfolk Theater Center.  At the head of the stairway two long narrow “galleries” filled with the canvases of Maire Palme, “painter  extraordinaire”.

    On to the gallery at the left of the stairs.  There hang the most recent works of this Finnish artist.  Closing in on right & left in the tunnel-shaped gallery these very large paintings, filled with human heads & wriithing bodies, overwhelm and instill a deep feeling of unease.

    Because Maire Palme (seven years in this country from Finland with a Masters in Fine Arts) is very much into a style of painting known as Metaphysical.  In 1919 Chirico, one of the founders of this movement, said:  “Everything has two aspects, the current aspect which we see nearly always & which ordinary men see, and the ghostly and metaphysical aspect, which only rare individuals may see in moments of clairvoyance & metaphysical abstraction.”

    The extreme realism which results from Maire Palme’s airbrush used with oil paints is fantastic and she has mastered this technique over a two-year period.  Her work since this spring’s outdoor art show in Norfolk’s Stockley Gardens has moved rapidly away from the near-saccharine blue & rose, always beautiful women-and-child theme, which, repeated endlessly, meant little or nothing - except for establishing her excellence with an airbrush.

   Now the picture changes.  We find the artist intent on topics such as gun control, liberation, anti-Christ, astrology.  Her palette has altered to favor yellows & warm earth tones over garish neon hues.

    Palme’s compositions teem with disembodied heads, torsos, symbols and EYES - hundreds of them - expressing sadness, apprehension, mirth, mania.  Explanations of the meanings behind her works are hard to come by.  The artist has said that she is often bewildered herself and at times can only hazard a guess.

    This is true of “The Mountain”, a canvas sharply divided into two sections, which probably signify two different worlds.  At top left a young American couple hold a flower (microphone, perhaps?), while a “mountain” of American Indians form on right.  Palme thinks the red slash across some foreheads must signify blood streaks.

    “Mary, Mary” is the prototype of Mother Earth, holding in her lap the green stone face of eternel mankind - eternal, therefore stone.  There may be a little of Dali in this one, he often used his wife as a Madonna model.  This central theme is stated not once but many times over, together with the heads of old winos and others.  Enigmatic in the extreme, “Gun Control” baffled even Palme.  A hand holding a baton(?) comes out of the shirt of a pudgy man; babies, women & another man pull on what might be link sausage.

    Reincarnation is the basis for “Introduction” in which a doctor examines a child surrounded by a montage of other seemingly unrelated figures.  The artist considered this a reference to the many rolls we can play in life, always with the thought of other lives, other existences.

    The meaning behind “Antichrist” and “The Saviour” remain clouded, but the theme of the canvas called “El Greco” is plainly the cast of characters portrayed in the Spanish artist’s “Burial of Count Orgaz” plus at least one of El Greco’s popes.  Many works evolve around the sensuous perfectiion of the nude female figure; of these the tall “Conception”, with its floating figures expressive of many emotions, is outstanding.

   In previous reviews of other metaphysical painters, their claim of complete uninvolvement (even to the point of an inability to paint except as guided by an “unseen force”) was usually stressed.  This makes it hard to equate Palme’s simply stated feeling of “being a vessel through which another power works” with the fact that she readily and openly admits to the use of many photos of models in her works, as for instance “Conception”.

    Which is not to negate the possible direct involvement of Devine Power in the successful completion of any of the visual arts.  In discussions of participation in this near-ecstatic state (which I find akin to ‘automatic writing’ with a brush), instances have been acknowledged and recounted.  With Hamlet one must agree:  “There are more things in heaven and earth...than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”