Lullaby for Realville is the first solo exhibition in London by Vienna-based arist, Edin Zenun, and runs from 15 July to 15 August 2022. Zenun paintings inspect composition, interactions between form and color and explore a range of materials including clay and oil.
The title of this show comes from a song by the American Jazz composer and utopianist Sun Ra. How does he inspire your work?
I generally use song titles for paintings, especially jazz songs but also electronic or modern orchestral music. They often have this strange abstract quality. In that sense, the titles are often love declarations to composers and their ability to give something as fantastic or even eerie as for example a Sun Ra or Moondog song a name and with that, something to grab on. I’m very jealous of this ability by the way.
You state that your images take the influence of sampling in the same way that electronic composers sample music. How do you use this technique across art forms? Do you create music yourself?
I’m completely talentless when it comes to making music. But I think the idea of mixing an
d sampling is very natural to the creative process. You see a lot of things and at some point it just clicks. And somehow a weird, pink 1920s watercolour painting fits to blue graffiti on a park bench, which can be mixed with a 60s jazz album cover. This is how most of my works start.
Your family came to Austria during the secession wars of Yugoslavia. Has this journey and this interaction of utopianism and dystopianism affected how you work?
I’m not sure, probably unconsciously. The older I get the more I realize how much of an impact the past has in our lives and how much of ourselves comes from events and decisions made by others. They are often the very reason why, how, and where one lives. I realized that my life and that of many others is the
result of collapsed ideologies of the last century, and that there is definitely more or less strong nostalgia for some of this failed futures in our societies, be it in a good or bad way. I probably absorb this intuitively like most of us.
You make use of a huge number of artistic influences throughout your practice, but your final canvases are generally quietly minimalist. Aspects such as colours, which are famously bright in psychedelic works, become muted on your canvases. How do you achieve this effect and why?
Maybe it’s my childhood that had an influence there. The summers I spend in the southern Balkan Peninsula were very hot, the sun turned everything white, the landscape smelled of mountain flowers. So I often have a preference for toned down or washed out colours – there are endless khaki-colours. A reason is also that I think a quiet and subtle palette can be more difficult to work with than for example one with just primary and secondary colours, often used in ‘psychedelic aesthetics’ to emphasize a bold or radical statement. Nevertheless I love to use ‘snippets’ of it.
You have also stated that your work in this show is intentionally smaller and proportionally standardised, something you have done for a number of years in your practice now- what is the thinking behind this?
The quality in small scale works is that they can produce intimacy; you as the viewer can decide if you want to engage with it or not. About the standardization of the format, it really helps to have one decision less to think about, especially if you try to work with as little as possible.
Do you have any future projects you might like to share?
Continuing with my interest in lost utopias but in a more visible way, I started a series of sculptures and paintings for an exhibition in Vienna at Zeller van Almsick, opening this October. It will deal with the revolutionary German Clinker expressionism of the 1920s juxtaposed to paintings based on Marsden Hartley’s abstract period from Berlin when he fell in love with a German officer.
Edin Zenun: Lullaby for Realville runs at Bastian, London from 15 July – 15 August 2022. You can visit Bastian Gallery at 8 Davies Street, London, W1K 3DW, Tuesday – Saturday from 10 AM – 6 PM. For more information see: Edin Zenun – Lullaby for Realville | Bastian (bastian-gallery.com)
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