Tamar Zinn

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At the still point, 9 At any particular moment, whether working within the vocabulary of geometry, line, or landscape, I’ve viewed the field as a setting for quiet drama. What if …. a form establishes itself along an edge; what if …. a patchwork of blocks arrange themselves in visual syncopation; what if …. a gesture wanders in, and then quickly out of the field; what if ….. the field is mostly empty? While the visual expression has varied over the years, my concerns have persisted over time. Explorations of spatial ambiguity have also been a significant and ongoing thread in my work. How do we perceive substance/solidity? What do we see as empty or void? Is each state immutable? Through compositions that have become increasingly spare, I continue to offer up questions, rather than certainty.

After an extended absence, landscape and light have re-entered my work, now integrated with an already pared down geometry. At the still point, 2015 marks a coming together of long-held concerns—the visual interplay of ambiguous atmosphere with solid substance, the romance of the natural offset by quiet geometry.

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In 2014, my work coalesced around two strands -- Blacks and Whites and Tangle Tangle, after a period of intense experimentation in the studio. These two bodies of work are linked by their spatial uncertainty and an intuitive process.

Blacks and Whites arose by a paring down of my vocabulary -- both composition and palette -- with the objective of doing more with less. A new emphasis on surface texture as a source of spatial complexity has taken its place alongside establishing a just-right dialog between the compositional elements. Although structural elements and geometry are often at play, my interest lies in the emotional space that may be suggested, rather than on creating geometric clarity. The process remains leisurely, each image built from multiple layers of oil paint and oil pastel that are often scraped and sanded to reveal glimpses of earlier layers. The Tangle series emerged in 2013 during a push to find new ways of working in the studio. I wanted to balance my more leisurely and reflective process of painting (on panels and paper) with an approach that was more immediate and would not allow for endless adjustments. After working charcoal into the surface of the paper, I use a kneaded eraser to record the movements of my arm and hand. Each drawing is completed in one work session, making it very much about the physicality of the gesture rather than a reflection of the thinking mind.

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The various iterations of the Fermata series (2011, 2013-2014) began by paring down the composition to slow down the process of looking. In contrast with balancing activity against calm in the Broadway series, each painting of Fermata (2011) has a quieter composition and palette. Fermata Lunga (2013-2014) takes that even further by reducing the palette to blacks, whites (and occasionally reds) and relies on a more restrained composition.

The Broadway series (2009 – 2013) reflects my life-long connections to both music and movement. Music, particularly jazz, is ever present in the studio and the structure and patterns in my paintings are influenced by rhythmic and melodic elements of the music. Developed with the vocabulary of geometric abstraction, this series is marked by conversations between activity and calm, surface and depth, complexity and simplicity. As with all my work, the process is intuitive, with no preconceived endpoint. The final compositions gradually emerge from the repeated scraping and sanding of thinly painted layers.

In the Arabesque series (2008 – 2009), I explored activity set against calm, quick against slow, syncopation against elongation. The curved forms of this series represented a departure from previous compositional approaches.

Previous series (Scrim, 2002-2004, Windows 2005) were driven by investigations of architectural structure and light. The images were contemplative and focused on spatial ambiguity and stillness. With the Sonia (2006) and Loretta (2007) series, geometry became a driving force in the compositions. Large forms were skewed and began to tilt and slide, while smaller pieces served as visual punctuation.

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