by Susanne Prinz, 2016

A surprising number of artists have worked with synthetic material in the past. However the material often appeared as a one off and was not used in a methodical fashion. The use of PE films in particular had some bizarre outcomes at times. As this industrially produced material has appeared so frequently in contemporary art over the past few decades, it hast to be considered a classic material not just for sculpture but for painting too. Indeed, for a long time it seemed to modernise anything it touched. However, by now the use of plastic in art has become ambivalent. Nowadays, it seems to be a material that points both to the past and to the future at the same time. There is no longer the celebration of novelty or naïve optimism attached to its use. It has a striking ability to hover ambiguously between the three-dimensional world of objects and the two-dimensional world of images, making it exceptionally attractive as a contemporary material.

It seems reasonable to assume that Michaela Zimmer’s specific interest lies right here, given the fact that her work has always explored the different possibilities of the spatial conditions we move in, and the images we create of these. It is through this exploration that her paintings bring the body forward as an argument. This is not necessarily visible at first, but it is palpable, because the format and interior structure of the canvases are based on the artist’s height and reach. Thus a performative space is portrayed which corresponds directly with each viewer, since like Le Corbusier’s Modulor, it takes man as the measure. If one engages with it, not only does a fusion of pictorial and actual space occur, the painting support and the picture also become one. For a lack of a fixed source of light in the picture, the distance collapses, which separates the viewer from the location of the visual experience. Instead, there is an infinite succession of reflections in a countless number of paint layers. What is specific about these canvases, characterised by a virtually incorporeal, floating chromatic space, is the fourth dimension inscribed within them; time manifested as traces of the performative between the multi-stratified, fragmented layers.

The introduction of sculptural elements enhances this remarkable oscillation of spatial awareness. Details get blurred and stay hidden behind semi transparent PE film. The dichotomy of abstraction and corporeality disappears in the merging of image and object – illusionary space and material. Looking at her past work it is obvious that it has always required an active viewer, someone who does not only decipher in a linear fashion by means of syntactical and lexical rules, but who puts themselves in direct association to the objects and signs defined by the movement and energy in the work. From this perspective the extension of the image to a further level of objectivity is coherent and convincing.

 

by Kim Savage, 2016

When we look at the painting of Michaela Zimmer it is apparent that there is something visceral tied to the process of viewing. Not only are we aware that the canvases often have materials draped over them, with plastics stretched and twisted around corners, but also that the works have a strong relationship to the body. The size and dimensions of the works, we notice, are corporeal by nature – they link to the body, and are directly related to the artists’ own physical constraints, namely her reach.

Elements of performance are utilized to construct her work; continuous painted lines, applied in one stroke, with dashes and reflections that often produce multiple layers and make up a surface that is fluid but also precise. When talking about her painting process Zimmer reflects on her past as a performer and the state one goes into both mentally and physically when focusing on making movements or gestures. She uses this energy in the studio as part of the process of creating and often works on many paintings at once.

The corporeal in her work is not necessarily one we are aware of within the dogma of discussing abstraction. Although her paintings are certainly abstract, what is prevalent is how the materiality and mark making invites us to focus on the body of the artist during the creative process: Zimmer presents corporeal meanings that relate to more visceral aspects of the body and the visual language of abstraction. The space the work occupies affects us as a viewer, while the interference from the draped material forces us to move bodily around the work to engage with it. Never appearing quite the same when viewed from different angles, the transient nature of the surface encourages us to react to the work physically, which in a way, reflects the act of making.