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P E T E R   M I R A G L I A


- R e v i e w   E x c e r p t s -


Burton Wasserman
Art Critic


 October 2012


[Magazize Cover and Article with multiple reproductions. Review excerpt below...]

click here to view full PDF of Review


    Few artists have pursued portraiture with all the concentrated commitment, artistic consistency and sheer philosophical integrity of Peter Miraglia.  His honesty of approach and remarkable technical virtuosity are absolutely second to none.  As an amazingly gifted expert in his chosen genre, he searches for and defines the complexity and mystery of the human face in passages of brilliantly nuanced color, light and texture.  Together, they convey a tangible measure of physical solidity, flashes of intuitive insight and extraordinarily expressive fluidity. 


    In the pursuit of his oeuvre, Miraglia makes expert use of posing and lighting the people he sets up in front of his camera...to effect a resonance of eloquent drama.  Employing these measures with exquisite control, he brings images into existence that are never obvious, corny or tiresome. 


    Avoiding approaches that are either trite or stereotypical, he structures deeply moving pictures of completely credible human beings.  They stay attached to the receptive memory of your eyesight long after you leave the gallery where they were initially installed and observed.


    Invariably, the faces you find in these photographs remind you of people you’ve met and know from past experience.  Simultaneously, they each also manifest a distinctiveness that lends authenticity and uniqueness to their being. 


    The differences seen in the many photographs on view are truly staggering.  They reminded me of the wide assortment of facial types you see on the many figures Michelangelo brought together in his paintings on the ceiling and altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.  The more you take note of this consideration, the more you appreciate the vast range of individual variation there is in the appearance of living people everywhere.


     The photographs of Peter Miraglia are fascinating stories without words.  Rich with artistic appeal, they speak in the language of design to unlock additional details filed away in the recesses of your brain.  There, they kindle profoundly moving insights into appreciating the meaning and worth of an ever-present human condition.           



Dave Barton
Art Critic

Orange County Weekly Arts


June 14, 2012

"OCCA Tick-Tocks On the Art Block"

  Orange County Center for Contemporary Art's
 themed exhibition "Random Acts of Time", skillfully curated by William Morenostartled, intrigued and delighted me...

    Peter Miraglia's photograph of an older man in drag makeup,
   Ted, deftly contrasts the picture it's paired with: wide-eyed little boy Wolfgang ...


Burton Wasserman
Art Critic

 ART MATTERS, November, 2006

“Mirror Images”

On journeys near and far, Peter Miraglia has framed phenomenal scenes.  They focus on the human figure, situated within carefully composed settings. To see them is to have your vision enriched with sights destined to stay attached to your memory forever.  They are pulsing with energy- given shape with a seemingly infinite visual awareness and a passionately motivated capacity to control shades of form that come into focus with incredible aesthetic acumen.

The net outcome of all his labors is a body of images alive with a seemingly incredible wealth of expressive finesse.

I frequently maintain that the late photographer, Arthur Fellig or Weegee as he is better known, was an exceptionally gifted artist who gave definition to the dark side of life in his night scenes of New York City.

By comparison, Miraglia is a great poet of daylight.

In his hands, the camera is made to reveal the essence of the human state…as a group, they spell out interior psychological facts that are extraordinarily universal.


Victoria Donohoe
Art Critic

November 19, 2006

Ethereal India in Photographs”

Peter Miraglia's portraits are richly colored, sensuous, and endowed with a dreamlike strength.

The delicate mix of senses and substance imbues the work with an air of uncontrived refinement.

He delights in creating images that seem both familiar and movingly ethereal, beautiful. In the India series, distinguished also by Miraglia's technical range and ability, there's much to be learned and enjoyed amid the riotous iridescent color.

Such work can be significant as art because Miraglia is able to meet with strangers, inspire their trust and not alter their history, yet dramatize their human dignity and attempt to fathom their character by capturing the alluring effect of stage sets, which each of these provincial portraits unmistakably is.

It's a stunning show.




Stephen Lanier
Executive Director


“Peter Miraglia - Zanzibar”

There is a paradox in portraiture, particularly, in photographic portraiture.  Undoubtedly, a portrait is about the specific--this individual, this setting, this moment--yet good portraiture transcends the specific, revealing elements of our common hopes and of shared human experience.

Peter Miraglia’s skilled and evocative portraits of the peoples of Zanzibar transport us, as Westerners, to a seemingly exotic world—a world whose modern legacy of violence and tragedy is eloquently reflected in the faces of Miraglia’s subjects.

Miraglia’s meticulous compositions and painstaking process—utilizing a large format camera under natural lighting conditions—enable him to create a complex emotional dialogue between the photographer and sitter; and ultimately, with the viewer.  The long time exposure results in work of intense intimacy—psychologically revealing and powerfully moving.

We are drawn into a world that is mysterious, yet familiar.  In a land frequently likened to a mythical Eden, we are reminded of our essential humanity. 


R.B. Strauss
Art Critic
ART MATTERS, January, 2002

The profound dignity that resonates through the photographs of Peter Miraglia is at once immediate and subtle.  There are no poses here, yet the candid quality is manipulated through nuance of chiaroscuro and character.  Indeed these are character studies, visual monologues, their success the fact that they are concurrently lyric and narrative. 

Taken as a whole, the full complement of work constitutes a community, with Miraglia  no interloper but one of the family, the chronicler. The crisp focus and excellent, unobtrusive composition is matched perfectly by whom he photographs, and the totality here, the continuance from one person to the next, completes a circle of life that is one with the natural world. 

This is an impressive strength of his exhibit, for Miraglia, through his deft way with a camera, makes the unadorned black and white quality to appear both human and verdant by inference of shadow.
Victoria Donohoe
Art Critic

January, 2002

Peter Miraglia’s largest show of his Zanzibar pictures to date offers a riveting aesthetic experience.

Empathy for the subjects and an unobtrusive sensibility undergird these prints.  They  are intuitively composed, warmly felt events in which the sitters possess a natural dignity. Such portraits make resourceful use of unusual natural lighting conditions and surrounding tropical foliage.

What is particularly moving about this work is its sensitivity, and its intimate, considered detailed approach to men, women and children in a land long ago the source of an enormous slave trade.

Painful memories of that devastating era still affect the outlook of Zanzibari people.  These psychological  portraits have a special appeal for Miraglia who sees Zanzibaris as enigmatic and emotionally complex people with a suggestion of spiritual longing.  His quest to understand them continues.

D. Dominick Lombardi
Art Critic

May, 2001

Peter Miraglia's black and white photographs of Africans show his subjects to be proud and mysterious….

   In 'Martrida, Zanzibar' [1998],  Miraglia injects a bit of High Modernism by using mechanical textures like woven palm and fabric patterns in contrast to the organic forms of the subject's face. Two curious details, a safety pin earring and an out-of-place area of grass at the bottom of the picture plane, add even more interest to this already stunning portrait.


Helene Ryesky
Art Critic

Fall 2000

Six page article including career overview. 
Work reproduced on cover and throughout article.

Peter Miraglia’s Zanzibar portraits are straight-forward, riveting, and never exploitive.  They reveal the inner character of each person as well as the trust that has been firmly established between Miraglia and the people who allow him to take their photographs. 

Working in available light, Miraglia is undaunted by shadows on faces.  In his hands, the shadows in photographs such as “Suleyman with His Knife”  [see cover] become metaphors for the dualities in the lives and history of his subjects.

…From the very beginning in photography Peter Miraglia has remained steadfast in the practice of psychological portraiture, with the aim of revealing the universal emotions in all people.


Nella Principe-Nelson
Art Critic

Spring 2000

Six page article including artist interview and numerous reproductions of work.


Peter Miraglia captures Zanzibar's most intriguing faces and the stories which lie behind them.

Each photograph in this series can be viewed as the individual’s psychological portrait: enigmatic, emotionally complex and tempered with a suggestion of spiritual longing. 

Each person is held in soft and sensuous repose by a culture that is truly exotic in the best sense of the word.  However this unique culture also includes a legacy of tragedy and violence, which continues to affect how the people of Zanzibar view themselves and the outside world.

Peter Miraglia's Zanzibar is a land of ghosts, a time capsule made up of the many cultures that contribute to its beauty and mystery.


Burton Wasserman
Art Critic


Feelings are facts.

Fundamental components of the human condition, they take material shape in the lights and shadows given voice by the figurative photographs of Peter Miraglia.

…In other examples he moves in very closely, on just one face.  However, instead of merely describing the shapes, textures and colors evident in that person’s exterior appearance, he brings out subtle changes of aspect and development.  The image ceases to simply portray a still object.  Instead a progression is revealed.  Nuances of transformation come into view, lending a living, breathing sense of truth to the pictures. 

Defying explanation in words, this sense of truth has to be seen, because it takes on meaning only when it’s experienced in its own terms, in the language of vision.

Within the form and substance of his pictures, intense emotional states such as grief, fear, exaltation and anguish come alive vividly.  His images are profoundly poignant, detailing the drama of the living experience, projected by the faces of the people who are his models.  What, for example, can be more eloquent than the sight of tears running down a woman’s cheek in one of his superbly crafted studies?


Les Reker



The  photographs of  Peter Miraglia are alive with graphic images of penetrating, expressive power; yet they project a remarkable sense of delicate intimacy.  Given such tiltle as “Tearing Apart”, “Awareness”, “Refuge”, and “Healing”, his work explores the multi-leveled web of psychological complexity that is always present when two human beings interact.  His life-long interest and involvement with the field of psychiatry has led him to focus his camera on interpersonal relationships, illuminating both the psychological dichotomies and the emotional ambivalence.

The subtle interactions between individuals portray a world of emotional complexity and narrative ambiguity.  While each picture is a specific representation of particular individuals, they readily challenge the viewer to participate in the narrative and project their own experiences onto the photograph. 

Clearly the work of Peter Miraglia reflects not only a graceful, compelling mastery of the photographic process, but a keen awareness of the emotional dissonance and passionate energies of the age.


Burton Wasserman
Art Critic

ART MATTERS, March 1988

Peter Miraglia’s pictures reflect the deep need and rare gift he has for staging and direction. 

To see a photograph by Miraglia is to see a full length movie film compressed into a single frame.  But, what makes his pictures so different from the cinema is the fact that ultimately the narrative has to be spelled out by the spectator.  While each picture is quite specific in what it represents, it is, at the same time, extremely ambiguous.  Thus even though every piece is supercharged with emotional electricity, each of these visual scenarios is also mysteriously open-ended. 

All this happens in the interplay of believable flesh and blood human beings, in images that make use of what photography, as a medium, is uniquely able to offer. 

It isn’t often one finds work by such a gifted artist who knows exactly what he has to say and how to go about saying it with infinite grace and compelling mastery.

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