The point of going to most galleries is to look at what’s hanging on the walls. Yet as part of his new show, the German artist Peter Zimmerman wants you to pay just as much attention to the ground–which is why he’s painted more than 1,400 square feet of museum flooring with colorful resin. It’s designed to look as though his paintings are dripping off the walls, forming candy-colored resin pools on the floor.
On display at Germany’s Museum für Neue Kunst, Zimmerman’s Freiburg School exhibition is all about highlighting the way art can (and should) interact with its surroundings. Although the wall paintings are more conventional abstract oil paintings, the floors are painted with up to eight layers of transparent colored resin that subtly alter the atmosphere of each gallery.
“My main interest with the show was to try to tie these two different types of paintings together,” Zimmerman says. “I thought about the floor paintings almost like pedestals on which the oil paintings are being presented.” The floor paintings are meant to be scuffed, scratched, and even destroyed over time as museum-goers come and go–a process that Zimmerman says will eventually cause the resin floors to more closely resemble the brush strokes of the oil paintings they are paired with.
Beyond the juxtaposition of horizontal and vertical art, another theme of Freiburg School is the interplay between the analog and the digital. The art on the walls has all been painted traditionally, but the floor paintings have multiple overlapping layers of transparency, each containing subtle elements symbolizing computer UI elements such as browser tabs, windows, and screen tabs. The end result is that the oil paintings on the walls reflect off the shiny floors, almost like a piece of art reflecting behind you in your computer monitor.
According to Zimmerman, the exhibition will continue until June 19, at which point the oil paintings will be taken off the walls and put into the storage. As for the floor paintings, they’re too big to remove. He’ll have to take a sledgehammer to them–but that seems appropriate. Freiburg School isn’t just about making art gallery floor candy. It’s about the impermanence of the digital compared to the resilience of the analog.
Photos: Bernhard Strauss ©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016