Bernd Zimmer - Nexus

28.10.2021 - 26.02.2022


Images of the Exhibition


With the "Nexus" exhibition, Galerie Wolfgang Jahn in Munich is showing selected works from Bernd Zimmer's current oeuvre. Zimmer is one of the main representatives of the "Heftige Maler" group of artists, which formed in Berlin in the early 1980s and whose artistic style is determined by colour-intensive and gestural painting. However, his artistic expression has continued to develop since then. Only recently, in September 2021, he caused a media sensation with the completion of his large-scale conceptual project "Stoa 169", a hall of columns in Polling, Upper Bavaria, with 121 individually crafted columns by international artists.

The term "nexus" comes from Latin and literally means a "link", "intertwining", "winding", thus figuratively denoting the existence of a "connection" and a "coherence". In relation to the work of Bernd Zimmer, this title chosen by the artist reads like an excellent, precise keyword for his art, especially in its literal derivation. This is true both in terms of content and form, as the term evokes a variety of associations when viewing his paintings.

In his paintings, Zimmer treads the line between representationalism and abstraction. His works, which ostensibly have nature as their subject, only show references to reality. Without depicting anything concrete, they interweave in the literal sense of "nexus" with abstract structures that develop a completely pictorial life of their own on the picture surface. Zimmer takes us into sensory impressions of landscapes, apparent shores with tree cover, implied waters with water reflections, which he has processed and creatively thought through to the end. Or he catapults the viewer directly into the cosmic expanse of space, where he confronts them with mysterious, visually powerful physical phenomena such as supernovae and black holes. In the process, pictures have been created in his studio that actually produce a perceived pull. 

As broadly defined, but also as contrasting as these sceneries appear, from familiar domestic shores to unknown distant galaxies, the "nexus" here is already formally Bernd Zimmer's unmistakable painting style. If you look at the colour and form of the paintings on show, you will see little to no firmly established, clearly contoured structures. Rather, there are flowing as well as expulsively drifting apart colour spillages, transitions and overlays, which are achieved by a thinning and thus liquefying of the paint. Through their running traces, directed by the artist and by chance, the colours unfold an unleashed life of their own, which manifests itself in bizarre expressions of form. These are joined by branching, sprawling formal elements and blob-like structures whose trajectories resemble the drifting apart of drops of ink on a piece of paper held vertically. Sometimes they give rise to completely abstract elements or even tree structures. Then again, there are meandering and winding wave forms that overlap and intersperse with each other and, in their different colours, fascinatingly express the moving, constantly reflecting and changing play of the waves on the surface of the water. The result is an interplay of form and colour that pours over each other and transitions, in "winding", mutual "intertwining" and "interweaving", just as the term "nexus" literally expresses.

With the title of his series of works "Alles Fliesst" (Everything Flows), in which the artist shows undulating and reflecting water surfaces, Bernd Zimmer refers in German translation to the ancient aphorism "Panta rhei", which goes back to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. In his teachings, Heraclitus compares existence to a river in which, figuratively speaking, we cannot step into the same river twice, since the body of water carries new masses of water each time and one has also changed oneself. 

Heraclitus himself speaks in his writings again of a "nexus", a „connection" or coupling, when he states, almost like a pictorial description of Bernd Zimmer's works:

"Couples are things whole and things not whole, what is drawn together and what is drawn asunder, the harmonious and the discordant. The one is made up of all things, and all things issue from the one." 

In terms of form and content, the Heraclitean references seem to find their visual expression in the works of Bernd Zimmer.  The large in the small, the small in the large, made up of all things and all things from the one. The branching forms, splashes of colour, blob-like structures and billowing colour formations, which consciously refuse purely geometrically circled formal elements, almost develop an organic and pulsatingly animated character in their expressions, which sometimes makes one think of cell structures, synapses, capillaries and veins. And therefore of those structures from which an organism, indeed life and being, first emerge. And in a similar way to the subatomic area of the microcosm, where electrons move in constant motion around the atomic nucleus, the planets orbit around the sun on the large scale of the universe. 

In Bernd Zimmer's work, too, both the earthly landscapes and views, in which their essence and thus the essential is expressed, as well as his sometimes seemingly fantastic views and insights into outer space seem to be animated and enlivened by a formal and pictorial language in which connections emerge from a multitude of evolved autonomous structures, which in their interplay become an orchestrated harmony of impressive pictorial inventions.  


Dr. Veit Ziegelmaier