Zimra Beiner’s work is included in the Gardiner Museum’s 4th Annual “RBC Emerging Artist People’s Choice Award.” This gave us a reason to profile up and coming talent in ceramics. Online voting for the award is open September 3rd through October 12th. To cast your vote head to their page here.
Above image: Zimra Beiner, Suburban Rocks, 2014, ink on tracing paper.
What role do domestic objects play in our everyday lives? Our relationship with furniture, fruit, or pottery is often overlooked, but these are the foundation for our modern environments. Through the unsuspecting act of drinking my morning coffee I become an accessory in a domestic performance. Zimra Beiner’s layered drawings suggest functional pottery as a gateway theme into a broader exploration of domesticity including objects, people, personalities, and language. He interprets the everyday, translated via abstraction, process and medium to achieve a precarious moment between the real and the fictional.
“Making art defines my life. My attempt to expose the making process is an autobiographical narrative. Looking, translating and making are mixed together in which the boundary between art and life become tangled. The everyday is interpreted, re-contextualized and abstracted as a reflection of life. I adopt direct techniques to allow forms to be quickly realized. I set up systems to allow for error, gaps in rationale, and open-ended possibilities to add tension to the work and my process.”
Beiner’s sculptures are familiar everyday environments translated through his making process into life-size 3D illustrations. He composes large domestic scenes containing chairs, lamps or tables as well as vague elements like cubes and poles. His sculpture Bookend (2013) incorporates actual books and clearly articulates the mysterious space between the real and invented. This sculpture also acts as a transition piece in which its form is a link between his domestic scenes and his anthropomorphic blob sculptures.
The blob series features human-scale amorphous lumps, sluggish but conscious, often dependent on thick but wobbly noodles for support. They place me in a state of anxiety, wondering if I can catch the poor fellow when he slips off his platform.
“I examine the intersection between reality and fiction from the obscure to the generic. I use my own language of line, volume and composition to make sense of the overlaps which occur in the studio (my reality), the home (everyone’s reality) and the gallery (the reality of art).”
Beiner uses an invented visual language that affects the sculpture’s mood, like a typeface affects text. He uses his own three-dimensional font that lands somewhere between the dumbness of comic sans and the fluidness of calligraphy. In Vocabulary Of No Particular Tool Beiner uses objects as language to conjure themes using the traits of familiar items, seemingly combined at random to form abstract function-related words. Beiner’s visual language appears inspired by Danish-born Anders Ruhwald whose sculpture also deals with utility and object-hood via ceramic.
Beiner’s sculpture is a balance of language, historical cultural references, and the presence of familiar present day artifacts. He stimulates tactile desire but in the “hands-off” setting of a formal gallery. In this way it teases the viewer, like a seducer who builds your expectations just to tell you… you’re not their type. His work gives, then it takes away: an ongoing conflict between intimacy and distance, familiar and unfamiliar, real and the fictional, knowing and not knowing.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Zimra Beiner completed his undergraduate studies at Sheridan College and at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. He is a graduate of Alfred University’s MFA program, 2012, and was an instructor at Bowling Green State University for two years before his current position teaching ceramics at Millersville University in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Part of an emerging younger, new wave in ceramics and sculpture, Beiner’s art conjures up domestic theater, both the banality and drama of everyday.
Justin Crowe has joined CFile’s team as a writer-at-large and will be reporting from Europe in the coming months.