Tamar Zinn at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts

Installation view.


What about this exhibition is unique for you?

I feel as if I have arrived at a particularly satisfying place with this body of work. Most important is that it marks the weaving together of several elements that have been present in my work over the years. Before I turned to abstraction, the focus of my work for a very long time was invented landscape imagery. There were periodic forays into abstraction, but I kept returning to the landscape, which was where I felt centered. When I fully embraced abstraction about fifteen years ago, it was because I needed to take risks by entering into what for me was foreign turf. But those early abstractions often referenced light and in that way were linked to my previous work. The interest in luminosity gradually faded as I intensified my focus on structure and geometry. It was as if I could only understand how I wanted to work with structure by first eliminating overt associations with the natural world. With this current series, luminosity has re-entered the work in a way I find very exciting, and it is now juxtaposed with a pared down but rigorous geometry.

Additionally, in this work I also see many of the preoccupations that were present in my paintings very early on—the need for structure, the importance of information along the edges, playing with spatial ambiguity, and consistently incorporating removal into my process. So it is the integration of intention, process, and composition that makes this series very meaningful, in a way that wasn’t accessible to me in previous bodies of work.

Installation view.


Can you tell us how you name your work? In this exhibit, all of the work shares the same name and is numbered. Where did “At the still point” come from?

Many years ago, I realized that if I tried to come up with a unique title for each piece I would never have enough time to paint! I also didn’t want the titles to be a distraction from the experience of looking at the work.

Since I generally work in series, my search is for a word or short phrase that best reflects the focus of the series. The series title often comes to mind soon after the body of work has started to coalesce. In some instances, the title makes reference to another artist: Sonia Series – Sonia Delaunay; Loretta’s View – Loretta Pettway; Broadway Series – Mondrian. In other bodies of work, the title reflects the importance of music and movement (Arabesque), or quiet (Fermata Lunga).

But for this current series, At the still point, the title came about through a different process and it is particularly rich with meaning. Although I had already completed 5 or 6 paintings, I was stumped in terms of a title. That led me to invite an artist friend for a studio visit, and after a lengthy conversation about my intentions and process, she suggested a few lines from T.S. Eliot’s Burnt Norton. I knew immediately that the text mirrored my thoughts about these paintings. There are so many ways to unpack the meaning! The ‘still point’ is that moment when all is possible, when everything comes alive, when the painting finds its purpose. It is that moment when I am embracing both ambiguity and certainty, or neither. Going back to the text.‘ At the still point, there the dance is.’


“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”

T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton”



At the still point 5, 2015 oil on dibond, 26 x 16”


Can you tell us how you go about constructing the paintings? What steps you normally take and how do you call it finished?

In this body of work, intention and process became entwined. First, let me make clear that while a particular vocabulary has emerged for this series, my process is largely intuitive—I follow each painting wherever it leads me, with no preconceived endpoint, no preplanned composition. I arrived at an understanding of this work only after I had been at it for quite a while.

I paint on dibond, an aluminum composite. I apply several layers of primer to build up a weave-like surface, followed by additional layers of either black or white under-painting. I continue working the entire surface as an undefined field, adding thin layers of nearly random (but often saturated) colors until I sense the general direction of the palette—warm or cool, yellows or rose, blues or greens. The paint layers are brushed on, then often scraped and sanded to reveal glimpses of what is underneath.

The focus for quite some time is on the field, what I think of as atmosphere. At some point, when the surface is wet, I begin my search for the geometry of the painting by scraping off a thin rectangle along an edge, or establishing an extended vertical or horizontal across the field. But those initial attempts at finding the geometry can feel quite haphazard and often fail. It is also extremely important to me that the structure emerges through a process of removal–which involves taking risks as well as revealing what lies beneath the surface. Establishing those emphatic moments along the edges, the ones that read as black, can be particularly terrifying.

I keep going as long as the painting continues to irritate me; I often don’t know what is off about it, only that it hasn’t yet arrived. Both the geometry and field are modified repeatedly over many painting sessions, until the moment when, as if by magic, everything seems to have found its place. That magic is the moment of the ‘still point’—for me, it embodies tension and complexity along with quiet, clarity along with uncertainty.

At the still point 22, 2016 oil on dibond, 24 x 30”


How did you first come to show with Kathryn Markel Gallery?
Can you tell me about your relationship with Kathryn as artist to dealer?

Kathy Markel and I go back quite a ways. Perhaps five or six years after I graduated from college, in a burst of uncharacteristic audacity, I brought some watercolors up to her gallery on 57th Street. To my amazement, she took several pieces on consignment. Even more amazing, she started selling them! And since we have been working together for many decades, Kathy is deeply aware of the history of my work. She has been supportive through all the twists and turns as my work has evolved— and I think that pretty much says everything about the strength of this artist-dealer relationship.

At the still point 20, 2016 oil on dibond, 36 x 23”


Do you do studio work that you do not exhibit?

Absolutely! I go through periods where I do extended explorations (both works on paper and paintings) that take me in directions that are initially engaging, but then after a while I run out of steam. So even though there are often good pieces that I continue to live with in the studio, I’m not able to develop those particular directions into coherent bodies of work. At other times, I have done paintings that feel successful, but not fully my work—they feel a bit alien to me. But even though I don’t plan to exhibit this work, I keep it around because it will offer me clues down the road. Years later, I may see things emerge in new body of work that had its roots in the series I abandoned.

Installation view.


Is there anything you’d like to add?

While I’m certain that I’m going to continue with this direction—that I have more to say–I can’t predict where the work will take me. The last painting I finished before the show went up (At the still point 23) has some provocative moments in it that could hint at some changes….or not. Will the saturated colors in the underlayers become more visible?  Will the interplay between the structure and the field shift away from the edges? Will the geometry become more complex? Will the scale of the paintings change? I’m eager to keep going and see what emerges.
At the still point 23, 2016 oil on dibond, 30 x 38”


Tamar Zinn on view at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts through May 7th, 2016

529 West 20th, Suite 6W

New York, NY 10011

Phone: 212.366.5368

Email: markel@markelfinearts.com






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Svenja Deininger’s “Untitled / Head” at Marianne Boesky Gallery

If you were lucky enough to roam into New York’s Marianne Boesky Gallery between October 17th and November 14th, you were in for a treat. Svenja Deininger’s abstract paintings are a refreshing reminder that we still live in a time of outstanding art making. Her paintings play on each other and, in subtle ways, comment on contemporary art viewing. For example, one painting seems as if it’s gilded when seen in a photograph – but in person, the viewer can see that it’s the artist’s hand and standard colors at work. It’s clear that some works in this exhibit have been worked over and over, adding layers of thought along with paint; others complement this wrought process by being fresh and light with an apparent ease and possibly a single application of paint. Svenja was kind enough to offer Art Orbiter an interview.

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AO:Have you had many solo exhibitions?

Svenja: It depends, but I would say I’ve had more solo exhibitions than I was participating in group exhibitions, which is a fact I like since my work is a lot about the combination of single paintings within an exhibition space and their dialogue between each other.
While installing I often notice that I treat the single works like I would install a group exhibition. Sometimes not all of my favourite works make it into a show, while others I wasn’t intending to show, do….

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AO: That sounds like you had a good amount of say over what was in this exibition. Is that normally the case?

Svenja: Since it is a huge part of my work, I usually do the installations completely myself, which is what I did with both shows at Marianne Boesky Gallery. [Marianne Boesky and Adrian Turner] were in London for Frieze during installing, and then they saw the final installation at the day of the opening. Maybe that says it all… and that is also the only thing that I usually ask for: 100 percent control, one could say. It is of course different with curated group shows, but once I show a couple of works together, I am always involved in installing them.

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AO: Was this show different than others? In what way?

Svenja: I think each show is in a way different from the former ones congruent to the development and changes in my work. This show is maybe the next step of my former solo exhibition this year in Rome at Federica Schiavo Gallery, where I developed a few shaped canvases related to the very challenging architecture of the space.

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AO: As an artist I found this new development exciting. Are you saying that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t had the exhibition at Federica Schiavo Gallery? Or wasas it something you had been thinking about before that?

Svenja: Basically it was something among other things I wanted to do for quite a while. The show at Federica Schiavo was just a perfect occasion to finally start with it.

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AO: What do you enjoy most about it, dislike most about it,(the process and act of exhibiting)?

Svenja: My work can be like a sentence. It is about combining single paintings in a space like there are single words in a sentence and finally in a story. In their combination there is often a range of intensity. It is about the moment when to stop working on a painting. In this sense I see them as ongoing works. There are often paintings overworked over years as well as there exist works which happen after a short period of working.

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AO: How do you make the decision that a painting is finished?

Svenja: As I said, I want the works to be seen in a way as ongoing works and so it is not about finishing them…it is about the moment when to stop working on them. Sometimes I stop working on a painting and don’t know that it might stay that way… It has to be around in the studio and I often know that for me it is completed after months looking at it. And also sometimes I just know it suddenly…. It has to do maybe with a certain point of concentration during the working process, but also for what in a show I might need the work for…

For the first view they mostly seem to be very straight and logical, but once you spend time looking at them you realize they are not. I wouldn’t describe my work as abstract paintings though I wouldn’t see them as being figurative either.
It is more like a visualization of a general higher idea and, with its materiality and different layers, like a concrete description without bringing the idea to a physical appearance.
Mind and intuition are both involved in the process, which has no pre-established ending.
A conscious decision not to fall into methodologies turns on, welcoming the reoccurrence of a problem or chance. My practice is a sort of negative form of excavation. I think that my works are images that cannot be thought up this way; they are the result of a process-like way of working.
Like trying to give an impulse at the same time as a reaction.
Therefore, once I finished to install the paintings in the exhibition space (which is comparable to the working process of a single work) and the works are having a dialogue, this is the most enjoyable part.

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AO: How did you come to be showing in this venue?

Svenja: I was simply invited by Marianne Boesky and Adrian Turner who both own a couple of my works.

AO: How did they first see your paintings and acquire some of them? 

Svenja: They just saw the work during a fair – I guess it was Art Basel years ago.

AO: Can you tell us how you began exhibiting? What steps happened to get you to this point in your career?

Svenja: It just started that I was invited to several group shows, but I also didn’t show for quite a long time after academy. I was running a project space with an artist friend called Bernhard Brungs in Cologne and after moving to Vienna I was running another project space called Wednesdaybar (together with Nick Oberthaler and Benjamin Hirte). We showed one artist and one DJ every wednesday for a couple of years and I guess that is how I met other artists in Vienna…

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AO: What are you doing in the studio that might not be shown?

Svenja: Eventually everything will be shown; it is just a matter of time. For example, one work in this show took from 2004-2015. It was already shown once in an earlier state and then I continued working on it. I quite often do that…working on both sides of a painting and overworking former works which didn’t make it out of the studio.

AO:So, when you showed this particular work the first time did you have questions about if it was finished? Can you tell me a little more about that piece and how it happened to get a new life in the studio?

Svenja: That is simply something which belongs to my studio practice. I didn’t have any questions about it when I was showing it for the first time – it was just perfect at that time but it stayed with me in my studio and sometimes I simply have an idea [and I] continue working on it. Also, at shows I need very overworked works next to some that I stopped working on after maybe two steps…I need very generous, open works next to some which appear to be very concrete.

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AO: Do you ever do experiments that you allow to fail or is everything fair game for a future show?
Svenja: I would say my whole work is about failure… Basically each work has the risk to fail, as every exhibition can. Normally everything happens at the very last moment and only when everything comes together in the last working week, for example, and I get an idea about the final installation, only then do I know that it functioned again. But I am never sure while working if this will happen again.

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AO: I noticed your paintings are untitled. Why have you chosen to keep them untitled?
Svenja: The paintings have all been untitled for quite some years – just a few sometimes have subtitles.

Once I started with the small canvases (after working for a longer period only on large paper formats), I used “Neuer Anstrich” (“new coating”) as the title for one of them and it made sense to me since this marked a new working period. And further I found it a good title as it would be the last one for quite a while…

Each show has a title, though, which fits with the thought that every show functions like a sentence – and I don’t feel it is necessary to name every single work since the “sentence” is not predefined. As I said before, it appears during the working and installation process.

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Svenja’s work can be seen at:

Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York,

Vienna Martin Janda in Vienna


Federica Schiavo gallery in Rome

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Interview with Mark Zimmermann about his recent solo exhibition.

Art Orbiter asked Mark Zimmermann about his recent exhibition “Atlas Trilogy and other paintings” at Narthex Gallery.
What does having a solo show like this mean to you?
“This show meant quite a bit to me for a number of reasons. Dealing with the amazing architecture and putting together a coherent installation for the space was a challenge but a true delight. The challenge of course, was to create work that had a scale to match the space- you can’t really come in here and hang anything that doesn’t have some mass to it… And there is such a fantastic history here and such a strong, organic life to the space– the music, “The Chapel of The Good Shepard”, by Louise Nevelson… it’s just a great curatorial and cultural program.”
What do you most enjoy about it?
“I think what I enjoyed most was the chance to (and have the time to) create for a specific environment… As I mentioned earlier, creating work that fit the space as well as having a certain coherence as installation was a challenge, but a very exciting opportunity. I approached this show as I’ve approached some large scale commissions I’ve done, most notably a 4 painting suite at the Palazzo Tower in Las Vegas…”
How did you come to be showing in this venue?
“A dear friend introduced me to the former Director of the selection committee and I took it from there– submitting images of work, resume, etc. It was roughly a 3 year turn around from approval to the opening of the show, but that was a real positive, as it allowed me to really sort through ideas and formats for the paintings…”
Did you see the 3 year wait (after being selected) as a positive? How did the show change in your mind and in the studio over that time period?
After the initial elation of having been selected, I actually was rather bummed about the length of time, but I later saw it as a real positive — just having the license and time to work towards this singular goal and really trying to make a statement with the work…
As for change- looking back, it’s tough to pinpoint all the shifts and turns over that time period, but there was a lot of indecision in the first year of work- a lot of false starts… I feel like the work I installed in the space really started to come together about 2 years ago. There was still quite a bit of guess work being done and some experimental periods that didn’t amount to much in the end, but the work was becoming coherent and each piece began relating to the whole somehow… The real challenge came when I switched out 2 of the original pieces intended for the show and began to re-work 2 other earlier works in progress. That happened sometime around late July, so there were some stressful hours and late nights in the studio before I felt good about what was happening…”
What are you currently working on in the studio
“I’m  currently working on new paintings for upcoming exhibitions at Lyons Wier Gallery. But, as far as my studio practice goes, there are always drawings and various collage works, as well as some recent forays into sculpture. I’m very interested in translating my work into the 3 dimensional, It’s just not a language that I’ve really come to terms with as yet… I have some fairly large sculptural work at my Southern California studio, in Encino, but I’m still wrestling with the reality of it all… That said, there is something really sexy about working with a chain saw on large timber… Who knows what that means…”
What is your background/education? How did you get to where you are in these paintings?
“My background and/education is pretty much self-taught. Academia and I had a mutual agreement that we wouldn’t spend much time together. After a few years studying journalism and history, I was more or less kicked out of the University of Kentucky… When I showed up in New York I was customizing tennis racquets for professional players and teaching on the side. Around that time I started to pursue a literary career, submitting poems and short stories to university journals and small magazines. Once I started to publish my work I got more ambitious and started the first of 2 large novels and started spending more time in the museums, not really sure of what was going on… And, of course I began painting.
The first painting I did was on a small canvas on the grounds of Castelo di Rivara, near Torino, Italy. I had traveled to Italy from Vienna and by connection ended up spending a weekend in this amazing castle, owned by the Paludetto family, on a plateau overlooking this small village… The Paludetto family had an incredible collection and aside from the Museums, this was my first real exposure to contemporary art. The bedroom I slept in had 2 massive Hermann Nitsche blood paintings in it…
When I returned to New York, I was living in a small 2 bedroom in Harlem and below me was the studio of the photographer, Gary Fabiano,who, at the time, was an abstract painter. We met and talked one evening and the next morning he was at my door with a box of oil paint… It was a really beautiful- writing and trying to paint… Gary also introduced me to the gallery scene, at the time still very much in SoHo… And around this time, I began to do some journalism related to art, most notably work for PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art (formerly Performing Arts Journal) and for the LA publication, ArtUS…As I was still writing, more or less full time, I was also fortunate enough to be in the position to really put a lot of time into trying to become a painter- and fortunate enough to have more experienced, powerful artists offer their friendship and guidance- Robert Kingston and James Little immediately come to mind… I had a large studio in the same Long Island City building as Robert for a number of years and our daily studio visits meant so much to me in terms of my development… but most of all, it was marathon sessions in the studio for years at a time. Since becoming a father, I’ve gotten to a place in my studio practice where sometimes, a 4 hour session can be more than enough. But I only got there after years of 10-18 hour sessions…”
What Painting in the show gave you the hardest time and which came easy? Tell me about your process.
“It’s fair to say that none of them came easy. Each of the 3 canvases that make up “Atlas Trilogy” were started in 2001, so there was a ton of give and take and setting aside over the years… If a painting hasn’t sold and it’s in my studio it’s fair game as far as I’m concerned. Granted, there are paintings that are just “done”, in the strict sense of the word and I’m not going to just hang them up and go to town, making another painting. But most of my paintings take at least a year or maybe 2-3 years to complete and these were paintings that just were not coming together. I’d set them aside, maybe 2 or 3 times somewhat satisfied with them, but over the course of 14 years, you start looking at the world in a different way and that obviously effects the way you view your work…
The huge development for me and my practice was a recent obsession with landscape. Any painter is going to be sensitive to landscape, but around the time my Wife and I started a family, I reached a point where I wanted to really give myself over to the landscapes I was encountering, most notably the Hudson Valley, Montauk and Southern California…
My goal in the studio became the creation of metaphors for these landscapes…
In terms of my process, I’m constantly drawing in my notebooks and taking notes- making annotations about my work or small details that catch my eye, so ideas arise out of that, but for the most part the paintings are worked on and realized independent of drawings or studies… I start just working to create an interesting, engaging ground– layers and layers of paint and gel medium and then begin to tape off the space of the grid. Once the grid is down, it’s a matter of sorting through the possibilities of color and the relationships within the grid…
I think that the danger of working within a geometric composition is (perhaps) a tendancy to tighten down too much on the issues at hand. I feel I’m most successful when I’m letting the paint and the process dictate what is happening. It feels really good when there’s some painterly chaos, but a chaos somewhat held together by intent… I get that same feel with the martial arts- and that can’t be a bad thing…”
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