BILL ZIMA (Born 1961)USA
Bill Zima was born in 1961 in a small town in Indiana. He studied fine art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and then spent a year abroad, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, cultivating his practical skills, whilst studying under the “stone-carving master of Europe”. This experience proved to have a profound influence on Bill both personally and professionally.
After graduating in 1990, Bill spend the next year perfecting encaustic painting, having been introduced to the material of beeswax in his final year of study. He was immediately drawn to the tactility and translucence of the medium and the romanticism of the surfaces. Early pieces saw him collect the remains of the stone carvings, the stone dust, and mix it with wax to create ethereal figurative pieces.
The encaustic imagery evolved to abstraction and eventually took the form of minimalist colour field paintings. His technique was unique and it took him seven years to develop the laborious encaustic process. In 2003 Bill moved to Spain with his family and took a hiatus from the ‘exhibition circuit’, choosing to explore and develop new creative directions, to reflect the extraordinary experience of living abroad. Visual vocabulary was refined and expression was explored, using patterns to build up an image.
Bill Zima is a sculptor at heart who creates paintings with waxes and resin – contemporary encaustic paintings. Each painting is crafted, built up first with Kozuke paper then multiple layers of waxes, resins and oil paints are applied, scratched, scraped off with the remains similar to a visual palimpsest. Once the image is complete a frame is built to permanently house the painting, becoming an essential part of the object. Whilst studying fine art at the School of the Art Institute in the late 1980’s stone carving seemed to be the direction Zima would take as an artist. Taking a summer job with the renowned sculptor Dan Yarbrough introduced Zima to a magical material – beeswax – which was in time mixed with other waxes and resins to give him the unique recipe he uses today. Zima was featured in “The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax” originally published in 1997 making him one of the world’s leading authorities on encaustic painting.
Zima had an early and ongoing influence with nature as well as with Japanese culture. Growing up with a pond in the back yard meant summer mornings were spent feeding golden orange carp, as big as a man’s forearm. Paintings of the Edo period hung at home and this influence was reflected in a review in Art In America Sept 2002 – “Zima creates translucent, meditative colour fields in encaustic. His blocky interlocked patterns recall Chinese landscapes and limestone cliffs. The active surfaces suggest terrain with ridges, troughs and unexpected depressions.”
Acknowledging this lifelong connection to the East inspired Zima to begin study of the Japanese language which is ongoing. This experience has provided emotional, creative and intellectual traction points and is now an inherent part of every creative working day. It was the hiragana and katakana alphabet that appealed initially but the Kanji symbols and the rich history around the characters were a key connection. The brush strokes for kanji are similar if not the same as brush strokes for tree branches, one and the same.
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