Jerry Zeniuk

Jerry Zeniuk’s latest watercolors orchestrate a coherent colorist melody. On closer inspection, however, the highly differentiated individual pictures reveal pronounced dissonances: chromatic crescendos of stripes; collisions of complementary contrasts; and splotches of primary colors that move freely, creating a cheery play of color.

It is quite surprising to recall that this colorist vitalism is supported by a systematic conception of painting, rooted in analytical monochrome painting of the ’60s and ’70s. The watercolor has always been used as a “lightweight medium” that lends itself to an étudelike looseness.

For a long time, Zeniuk has enjoyed an “insiders” reputation in Europe, but he has only become more widely known during the past two years. In 1989, Harald Szeemann included him in “Einleuchten” (Hamburg); and in 1990, Bremen’s Kunsthalle gave him a first retrospective. He had already devised his painting structure in 1971, but its development had to be piloted carefully and without shortcuts. Thus, the successive stages of his oeuvre exemplify the transformation from systematically reductionist monochromes to the renewal of a colorful, psychologically resonant style.

Zeniuk’s watercolors are a complementary and still independent part of his work as a whole. They are concerned with the role of color, which, after its separation from the object and from form, becomes one of the most essential devices,of painting. Finally, this exhibition elicits the critical question: to what extent does a reinvestiment in purely retinal experience permit new experiences of content? The knowledge of the work and its roots convinces us that this painter never bogs down in simple virtuoso colorism.

Markus Brüderlin

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.