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John Zurier / MATRIX 255

September 12, 2014 - December 21, 2014

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John Zurier: Cold July, 2014; distemper on linen; 25 5/8 x 16 1/2 in.; courtesy the artist and Peter Blum Gallery, New York.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF).

Berkeley-based artist John Zurier (b. 1956) paints abstract, luminous canvases with hand-mixed pigments that range from subtle, muted earth tones to vibrant, saturated hues. He uses a wide range of brushwork and surface treatments to draw attention to the varied textures of the canvas—often applying distemper (a tempera paint made with dry pigments in animal glue) in thin brushy layers—to capture qualities of light and the changing effects of the atmosphere. He builds compositions that are both simple and involved, paying close attention to all aspects of a painting’s construction, including the differences between cotton and linen surfaces, the weave of each canvas, and the individual properties of tempera versus oil paint. Informed by a wide range of references—Abstract Expressionism, Italian Renaissance painting, Minimalism, Japanese painting, and poetry—Zurier’s work transcends the mundane to enter an affective realm. “I’m very interested in how compositional formats and motifs and even incidents in a painting can trigger perceptual responses and associations,” Zurier says.

Born in Santa Monica, Zurier received both his BA and MFA from the University of California, Berkeley. For MATRIX 255, his first solo exhibition in a museum, Zurier debuts a new body of paintings and watercolors inspired by Iceland, where he has been traveling, teaching, and painting since 2011. Zurier’s abstractions evoke the ice, fog, wind, water, and light of the Icelandic landscape, while also tapping into more timeless, contemplative states. Icy pale blue tones predominate, revealing the infinite range of the hue, as each composition strikes a unique, sensitive chord.


John Zurier / MATRIX 255 is organized by Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator. The MATRIX Program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.