Raphael Zimmerman: LOVE


Thierry B Gallery,
3-20th December 2002

One of the great advantages of abstract art over the figurative traditions is its ability to explore and express ideas of a more immaterial kind such as love, joy, beauty, touching upon things of the human spirit. In this it is like music, with its wondrous emotional range, intellectual concepts and technical fascinations, impoverished when reduced to mere words of explanation. Raphael Zimmerma's art explores such precious intangibles, and any words written about his art must be but a guide for the viewer in the pleasure of their awareness. Zimmerman plays lightly and beautifully with the infinite, and offers in most painterly terms the fruits of meditative awareness, a kind of "presentness". Use his paintings to unlock perceptions of honesty, kindness, happiness, for these are the ideas and feelings that motivate his art.

The key to his paintings on exhibition has a challenging contemporary relevance "love" (as in the exhibition's collective and a painting's individual title) as a powerful embrace and positive action against the negativity of today, enshrined in the denial called terrorism. Zimmerman is a socially concerned artist with such compassionate motivations that he states "I believe the highest function of art is to heal". He is a talented cultivator of his conceptual iconography, and the painting Love shares that which has been put into it through its light golden glow and the emotional responses it evokes.

To the painting Joy he responded, "if you connect the stars in the sky you can write anything", which leads to the personally styled calligraphy within his paintings  "Writing on Water". There is also the square of his canvases, with its sacred and arcane connotations and simple completeness. And gold has its multifarious meanings "pure, precious, shared in his many paintings" on the technical side, often used to give texture to a work, a third dimension in works which entices travel in the fourth and other dimensions.

On a more intimate scale, the Immateriality series each followed by a vowel, for sound is not without significance in Zimmerman's work performs a sonata in blue. Universally it is a very spiritual colour; for the artist it is also clean and fresh. The variations exploit the evocative colour scheme, enhanced by gold and an enchanted space. Homo Faber (here is the man who does) provides the apotheosis, an icon without image. In the best nineteenth century Romantic tradition, the artist is the hero, who fights for good. Is there ever a time when we are in more need of heroes? The artist has his, as in Monet's Water Lilies, Detail with its iconography of light and golden leaves reflected on the pond's surface. Homage is also paid to J. M. W. Turner in Snow Storm at Val d'Aosta after the masterpiece in the National Gallery of Victoria. Here Zimmerman's mastery of colour shows out in his handling of a limited range, on the cooler side of the colour scale. Finally one must mention Ritual, a Bach-like cantata in paint, with its counterpoint structure of involved horizontals and verticals - interwoven lines and colours as in a sheet of music; Parisian blue for the interlacing.

Raphael Zimmerman reasserts the aesthetic in art in his pursuit of beauty.

David Thomas
3 December 2002
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