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Murray Zimiles: A Retrospective Exhibition


Murray Zimiles: A Retrospective Exhibition will be on display at the Neuberger Museum of Art through December 28, 2003. American artist and scholar Murray Zimiles manipulates traditional art making techniques - perspective, chiaroscuro, and continuous narration - to attain non-traditional results. The exhibition highlights Zimiles's oeuvre in three major series completed over the last thirty years: The Artist in the Studio/Genesis Series; The Holocaust Series; and The Animal Series. (right: Murray Zimiles, Dogs in Formation, 2001, mixed media on canvas, 48 x 70 in., courtesy of the artist)

In the mid-sixties, against the grain of contemporary movements surfacing at the time, Zimiles began to work in a figurative, narrative genre. His results established a distinctly innovative body of work that embraces yet defies tradition. "The work recalls tradition, fights tradition and at the same time establishes a new tradition," Zimiles notes. He imbues his work with intricate interplay and furious energy. It has been suggested that his major theme is paradise, or more precisely, paradise lost and partially regained.

In The Artist in the Studio/Genesis Series, Zimiles presents a complex interchange of figures and mythical creatures in graphite. Although the works possess the delicacy and line of old master drawings, their staging and alignment lends a modern perspective. The storyline of the drawings is ambiguous, the artist infiltrates the series with the exploration of illusion and reality, shame and outrage, creation and loss.

The Holocaust Series was painted between 1986 and 1993 and is dedicated to the artist's family and to other victims of man's inhumanity to man. Zimiles's work is haunted by his family's heritage of pain and it absorbs the viewer into a world of devastation. The figures in the Zimiles paintings explode with motion and emotion. They are set against the background of his signature swirling sfumato--the technique of blurring or softening sharp outlines by subtle feathering of one tone into another. Zimiles's exploration of evil marks his transition from personal odyssey to storyteller bearing witness. Works in this series recall Pablo Picasso's Guernica and the paintings of Edward Munch. (right: Murray Zimiles, The Badlands, A Study of Yellow and Violet, 2000, mixed media on canvas, 48 x 72 in., courtesy of the artist)

Zimiles began The Animal Series in 1996 and has continued their progression into the present. The series evolved from his Holocaust work and employs animals as metaphors for inhuman behavior. Carefully rendered animals, uniform in size, are fixed to their lush surface on an implied grid, creating an air of uneasiness. The animals function ambivalently--what appears playful or hopeful at first glimpse takes on an impression of sinister foreboding with further reflection. Zimiles has achieved unexpected effects by pouring, tossing and swirling paint. Although his paintings appear to be thickly impastoed, closer study reveals sheer layers of luminescent color.

Murray Zimiles, who has been a professor of art at Purchase College, State University of New York, since 1977, was born in New York in 1941. He achieved his BFA in painting and printmaking from the University of Illinois and his MFA from Cornell University and enhanced his printmaking credentials through study in Paris, France. Zimiles is the Guest Curator of the American Folk Art Museum's forthcoming exhibition of Jewish Folk Art.

Zimiles has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions since 1965. His work is held widely within private and museum collections throughout the world, notably--the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Jewish Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, Haifa, Israel; the Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

The Tremaine Gallery at the Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, CT, has organized this traveling exhibition. A catalogue that includes an essay by art historian and independent curator Maureen M. Jerome and an essay by the artist accompanies the exhibition. It is available for sale in the Neuberger Museum of Art Store.

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