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Andrew Zimmerman

Andrew Zimmerman: Expansion Series

April 2, 2008 - Jeff Kopie

Andrew Zimmerman: Expansion Series, Catalog Essay by Jeff Kopie 

Andrew Zimmerman's "Expansion Series" catalog essay

November 30, -1 - Jeff Kopie

Andrew Zimmerman’s recent work situates itself somewhere between painting and sculpture.  Combining elements of both practices, while refusing to be either, the work gathers its strength in the tension it creates between them, as well as in other, more clearly oppositional, categories.  These objects are sculpted and painted; they are additive and reductive, moving toward harmony while suggesting an imminent entropy.  They are produced mechanically but by a guiding human hand.  Attached to the wall by an underboard akin to the wood support of a painting, from a distance the works look like irregularly shaped, abstract canvases with flat patternings of lines.


The first step in Zimmerman’s process approximates traditional sculptural practice, in that he begins with a piece of plywood (in sheets of ¼, ½ and 1 inch thicknesses), and subtracts from it through a sequence of cuts made with a jigsaw.  Taking away from the wholeness of the board, the removal from the volume results in the patterning of the work.  Even as the technique is related to sculpting, it has an equal relationship to both painting and drawing.  Zimmerman has referred to the initial cuts as ‘drawing with a saw’.  In effect, he is placing marks on a flat surface, although these marks, while retaining the quality of incisions on a plane, go deeper, introducing actual (rather than illusory) depth to the work.


The segments of the broken picture plane are then reassembled, with approximate equal spacing between the parts, and reattached to a board of equal thickness.    By disassembling the surface, Zimmerman paradoxically expands it. The resultant imagery is filled with reverberant movement.  If read as two-dimensional, many of the works recall topological maps, wherein the land has been carved away with precise geometry.  In others, the accumulation of elements imply an increasing weight, their repetitious layering reminiscent of sedimentary geological strata.  Denying any clear point of fixity, these objects convey a tension of surface in flux.  At once harmonic and entropic, the surfaces breathe, expanding and contracting, closing in on themselves while simultaneously threatening to burst apart.   The rigidity of the unbeveled segments stand in counterpoint to their undulations as they travel across the surface.  The same dynamic is present in the outward shapes of the works, which, dictated by the process of cutting, are often disjunctive; they are in marked contrast to the mellifluous patterning of the interiority.


While the reliefs’ cuts are obviously made with a saw, the freehand, almost gestural use of the machine evidences the artist’s hand.  Following the freehand drawing cuts, Zimmerman’s paint application also emphasizes process and enforces the sensation of fluidity.  First, the incised areas are painted with a spray gun, usually in acrylic.  The segmented areas are then rolled with enamel.  Zimmerman’s intuitive color choices are sumptuous, and the play between acrylic and enamel, surface and subsurface produces an array of gradation, variably jolting or subtle.  When restricted to one color, as in 2007.11 and 2007.05, the intricacies of construction and the play of light across the surface take precedent.  In smaller, white reliefs, such as 2007.02 and 2007.03, the hints of blue inherent in the white paint emerge.  In 2007.08, the enamel surface has been sanded down to a matte finish, its interstices sprayed with an enamel blue, under which vestigial traces of red are visible.   


Zimmerman’s work acknowledges the necessity of working in three dimensions, while yearning to return to the format of flatness.  Far from mere nostalgia, or postmodern trickery, these objects are an organic evolution, a traversal from painting to sculpture, from two dimensions to three.  Zimmerman has his eyes fixed forward, but his vision still steals fruitful glances back into the rear view mirror. 


Jeff Kopie