The creative life of Brooklyn-based artist Christina Zimpel consists of different types of disciplines, ranging from graphic design to ink drawings and from illustrations to painting. In 2018, fashion designer Michael Kors asked her to design the catwalk sets for his spring/summer 2019 collection and was so enthusiastic about the result that he used some of the images for a number of accessories, including bags. Zimpel’s name was shown on the card. With her thick (black) paint strokes and almost abstract, figurative images, you can instantly recognise Zimpel's work out of a thousand. In her own words, “To me, art is not about what you see, but about what you feel.” With an expressive, yet minimalistic visual language in which she toys with proportions and abstractions, she knows exactly how to make every subject, every detail, exciting. As a guest artist, Christina Zimpel and Tina Berning – who invited her to the show – will be exhibiting at the same time. The two became acquainted through Instagram and liked the idea of exhibiting together. The Schönfeld Gallery in turn wanted to offer a platform for this initiative.
Cristina Zimpel, Red Balaclava, 2019, Schönfeld Gallery
MK How did you become interested in art? From your parents, on your own or through an experience?
CZ I became interested in art through my parents, although as a child I didn’t always agree with their taste! As nice as the art was, it seemed to come from a distant past. We went to a lot of museums together, but what I really connected to back then was popular culture because I could identify with their sense of rebelliousness. Growing up in the 60s and 70s gave me so much inspiration: album covers, Tomi Ungerer books, glam fashion, etc. At one point, my father travelled to New York and returned with a purple and yellow paper mini dress for my mother. I’ll never forget that!
MK People like to categorise art into styles or movements like Abstract Figurative, Abstract Expressionism, Abstract Lyricism, etc. What’s your take on that?
CZ It helps to group people together, I suppose. I enjoy seeing the connection between artists. I wish I had been around to be a Fauve artist because the art of this movement is so beautiful and expressive and they broke so many rules with colour.
MK What do you think is the most important aspect of your work? What do you want to communicate?
CZ I am excited by energy and movement because they are freeing. Photography has been a huge part of my visual life. I have been an art director for magazines and my husband is a photographer. Oddly enough, I rarely work directly from photographic references. As a result of my background, I work with common but nuanced experiences: a small gesture or a cinematic landscape remembered from life or a film. I am interested in the weather and time of day. I am also exploring my own memories growing up in Australia because they are vivid and quite lyrical.
MK Can you explain how you work in terms of technique?
TB I work a great deal on paper with ink and gouache or acrylic. This is often the starting point for a series of paintings. I am also painting more and more on a larger scale with oil and acrylic on canvas, which I love because it’s so physical and I can be very free with my gestures and can experiment with colour.
MK Can you tell us something about your upcoming show at the Schönfeld Gallery?
CZ I was thrilled to be invited to exhibit at the Schönfeld Gallery. It was a connection I made through the amazing artist Tina Berning, whom I know only from admiring her work on Instagram. She needed a partner for her upcoming show and suggested me. I was truly moved that she and the gallery embraced me so warmly! Our work, as different as it is, goes together beautifully. I love that she saw the possibility of our partnership before I did!
Christina Zimpel, Two Ballerinas, 2020 Schönfeld Gallery