• Engaging Feeling

    Date posted: August 6, 2010 Author: jolanta
    Fresh from having his work shown at the Florence Biennale, a selection of Dutch artists Wim Zorn’s abstract pieces were recently presented at the Broadway Gallery in NYC.
 These painted, primordial color-schemed works border on being assemblages by incorporating materials, like bamboo and binding agents to create shape and texture in a mainly asymmetrical style. These pieces also share a vertical line motif as a recurring and dominant compositional pattern. Several of the works have a weathered, aged feel to them. Zorn’s technique of layering colors with a dry brush makes them appear much older than they are. Experiencing life feels like inhaling fresh air. It’s not like you take a book, read a chapter, and you’ve gained this or that.

    Milton Fletcher

    Wim Zorn, Composition 23. Courtesy of the artist.

    Fresh from having his work shown at the Florence Biennale, a selection of Dutch artists Wim Zorn’s abstract pieces were recently presented at the Broadway Gallery in NYC.


    These painted, primordial color-schemed works border on being assemblages by incorporating materials, like bamboo and binding agents to create shape and texture in a mainly asymmetrical style. These pieces also share a vertical line motif as a recurring and dominant compositional pattern.


    Several of the works have a weathered, aged feel to them. Zorn’s technique of layering colors with a dry brush makes them appear much older than they are. The backgrounds of the pieces serve as the grounding for Zorn’s shapes and spaces that are typically defined by the use of texture and short bamboo shoots along with longer canes.


    Zorn began a self-taught approach to painting in the 50s, but ultimately turned his attention to advertising as a career until he took up painting again in the late 90s. He wanted to return to its challenges and to explore his ideas about art and creating atmosphere. Advertising must have given Zorn an appreciation for the value of artwork as a commercial tool and also could have instilled a longing to use art as a means of personal expression, as it has for many a former ad men. If anything, his style reveals a less-is-more conciseness that is common in commercial artwork. This is not to say that Zorn’s work is commercial; it simply shares some characteristics. However, he uses a looser touch that creates a personal style that combines the precise with the imprecise.


    Zorn has also been influenced by Bauhaus and interior design architecture with his concerns for balance and reductive austerity. This approach became more pronounced when he gravitated from figurative painting towards abstraction in 2002.


    The intrigue of Zorn’s abstracts at the Broadway Gallery show is that they can be interpreted in as many different ways as there are viewers to contemplate them. To these eyes, the traditional colors of the elements (earth, sky, fire, water) are strongly suggested in these works.


    For example, Composition number 7 has a chocolate brown and red-orange palette with bamboo canes aligned vertically to create and accent shape and space. Its colors resemble glowing magma that suggests the element of fire.


    Composition number 17’s colors are dark brown and weathered white with various lengths of bamboo also being utilized. Two thirds of the piece is painted brown on the left side while the other third is white. One full-length bamboo cane separates the brown and white sections. A further full-length bamboo cane divides the brown space vertically again at about the middle of the brown area. The left brown area hints at texture that may have been created by laying sections of bamboo on the paint while it was wet. The right side of the brown section has more pronounced texture. The uneven white hues in the piece suggest the element of air on a cloudy day.


    Composition number 25/26
    is unique as it is a combination of two separate panels. The left panel is dark brown on brown divided into three horizontal sections the top and bottom being colored dark brown and the center section divided by seven horizontal bamboo reeds spread roughly equally apart with a lighter brown background. The right segment shares the same lighter brown color but is vertically bisected by two slightly curved bamboo canes to shape a suggestive darker brown ellipse in its center. All these browns connote the element of earth with a mud-like semblance while the shapes have tribal overtones.


    In stark contrast, Composition number 23 features a blue and teal palette in various areas of the piece; it is divided vertically by a long thin bamboo cane with the left side taking slightly more than half of the right side of the canvas. It is painted a soft blue with slight green undertones. The right side of the piece is painted teal with three short bamboo shoots mounted to the surface towards the upper portion of the composition. A little strand of blue hangs limpidly on the left side of the piece and expands slightly towards the bottom. These hues allude to the element of water.


    Collectively, these works evoke a natural, vaguely spiritual vibe, contrasting with formalism and recurring motifs. It’s an engaging combination of spirit and style with geometric-like structure.


    Ultimately these pieces complement other bodies of work Zorn has done, such as his series interpreting the four seasons. These various projects are expanding and defining his vision of methodically consistent and simplified forms that can immerse the viewer in the works’ evocative worlds.

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