When Jeff Zimmermann came to Charleston, South Carolina magnolias were in bloom, so he painted them, picked fresh and also withered up, placed in bottles. He found local faces and, with a lightness of hand, made these characters breathe with realism that’s expressive, showing the subtleties of identity, yet graphic enough to pop from a distance.
During his artist’s residency at Redux Contemporary Art Center, Zimmermann painted directly on the white gallery walls and the exterior facade, incorporating objects that seem to reference our city in an exhibition titled, Self Control. We see a golf ball suspended over a glass of wine, props of the prevalent resort lifestyle, contrasted by an empty wine bottle wrapped in a brown bag. But the imagery is obscure and not made to be metaphors. The viewer is invited to contextualize and draw associations between objects and familiar, but unidentified, faces.
Zimmermann is known for seeking out a variety of quotidian subjects that give richness to our communities and daily experiences. He’s not idealizing famous and powerful leaders in history, but instead he seeks to empower and honor regular folks, and be a painter who loves his paintings. However, Zimmermann played around with the historical portrait while at Redux, incorporating monochromatic busts of a couple famous dead white guys, and also Milton Friedman, the Nobel prize winning economist who popularized laissez-faire policy. These characters are polarizing in a state like South Carolina that votes “red” and whose tourists come to see the architectural masterpieces of a slave economy.
Zimmermann is renowned for his large-scale mural projects, most recently completing a five-story wall in Memphis, TN, titled A Note for Hope: Turn the Page. His work has been featured institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, but also on the streets of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. His recent commissions include: Nike, House of Blues Chicago, LaSalle Bank, Whole Foods Inc., DreamWorks LLC, and Rhodes College. A Chicago native, he obtained a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has since gained international notoriety for his works. DailyServing has previously featured Zimmermann’s mural projects and object-based installations.