The Journal Inc

Press Release

The Journal Gallery is pleased to announce “Comedies,” Jeff Zilm’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and his first solo exhibition in New York.

“Comedies” is an exhibition of genre paintings. For this new series of works, Zilm sourced 8mm and 16mm slapstick films of the period from 1900 to 1960—shorts and features by Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Normand, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Ben Turpin and Jerry Lewis. The films’ cracked emulsions, the rancid ancient gelatins of nitrate reels or Kodak film stocks are chemically destabilized and transformed into paint in a process that at once destroys and fully extracts the image data of every frame, and the accompanying optical sound track, directly from the celluloid base. The process yields an inky black liquid that then is bound with a clear acrylic medium, as to not interfere with the integrity of the original tonal palette of the film. The result is an indexical record of a radical material collapse and compression of cinematic image and time. The sum total of all of the image sequences, all of the temporalities—long tracking shots, slow-motion, jump cuts, close-ups—collapse together and are materially projected with an airbrush and terminally fixed to the canvas as a petrified souvenir of the failed potential of the medium.

Sometimes Zilm refers directly to the fascinating history of eccentric development of aspect ratios by scaling the canvas in accordance with some discarded format. Movietone, with a ratio of 1.19:1, is an early format used in the late 1920s in Europe. This ratio was used by Fritz Lang for the movie M and the artist re-deploys it for a painting in the show called A Hash House Fraud, a Keystone Cops comedy from 1915 by director Charley Chase.

Zilm's approach to painting is rule-based and Accelerationist—one that is essentially alchemical and hilarious.

Jeff Zilm was born in 1958 in Iowa City, and currently lives and works in Dallas, Texas. He received his MFA at Southern Methodist Unversity. In 2002, Zilm was the recipient of the Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Grant from the Dallas Museum of Art and in 2008, he was an Artist in Residence at The Chinati Foundation. His work has been included in several group exhibitions such as “LIFE,” The Journal Gallery at Venus Over Manhattan, New York, NY (2014), “Material Images” at Johannes Vogt Gallery, New York, NY (2014), “Skim Milk,” Oliver Francis Gallery at Interstate Projects, Brooklyn, NY (2012), "Two Painters," at et al projects, Brooklyn, NY (2011), “New Paintings