"One must have a mind of Winter to regard the frost and the boughs of the pine-trees crusted with snow […]", is the first line in the poem "The Snow Man" by American poet Wallace Stevens. The eponymous quote for the exhibition sets the atmosphere that John Zurier's new works inhabit. For his exhibition in Berlin, John Zurier presents a group of large-format and small-scale paintings.
The works incorporate the artist's experiences during the winter last year when he spent time in the home of a friend in Reykjavik. Light was scarce since the daylight lasted only four hours and most of the lamps in the apartment did not work. After some time Zurier began to appreciate that lack of light, and took in the beauty of the darkness of this deep winter. He developed a "mind of winter". The rare, snow-filtered, grainy light that fell through the windows influenced many of the works on display in the exhibition.
For more than two decades the artist has developed his abstract, near-monochrome, paintings which capture the memory of fleeting phenomena like the interplay of light and color at a certain point in time in a particular place. Thus, light and color, landscape but also poetry and music are important sources of resonance in the development of his works.
His painterly process is intuitive and plays with the tension between intentional gestures and chance. Layer by layer, he alternates and applies opaque and translucent colors, washes out the colors and scrapes them down in certain areas of the surface. Though the brush meets the canvas with a light hand, the consistency of the thin wash makes the process visible, every brush stroke and swab is present and emphasizes the topography of the canvas. Color, brushwork, time and space combine to evoke a particular quality of light from the depths of his memory. His emphasis on the simple, the imperfect, the suggestive and the processual is infused in particular by his examination of Japanese aesthetics and its principles, which are closely linked to the idea of the beauty of impermanence.
Stevens' poem ends with the line,"For the listener, who listens in the snow, and, nothing himself, beholds nothing that is not there and the nothing that is". Zurier's paintings are equally open, physically, and metaphorical – they are exposed in all their lyrical ambiguity.
John Zurier was born in 1956 in Santa Monica, California and lives and works in Berkeley, California and Reykjavik, Iceland. Recently he presented solo exhibitions at The Club, Tokyo (2017), New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe (2016) and UC Berkeley, Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2014) among others. Zurier participated in the 30th São Paulo Biennial (2012); the California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art (2010); the 7th Gwangju Biennial (2008) and the Whitney Biennial (2002). His work has been exhibited widely in solo-exhibitions both in the US as well as Europe and Japan. His work can be found in numerous public collections including the UC Berkeley, Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2010 he received the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. A catalogue surveying his work from 1981 to 2014 with an essay by Robert Storr was published in 2015. This is his fourth exhibition at Galerie Nordenhake.