This appeared in the Friday, Feb. 11 edition of The Jersey Journal and is one of my favorite pieces so far. I really like this guy’s art, especially because I feel like his stuff is just meant to be in someone’s home, you know?
In a small studio in a block-long building in Jersey City’s McGinley Square, artist Stephen Cimini sits on a paint-stained chair in paint-stained pants.
Around him are colorful canvases with architectural depth, each one made of interlocking, overlapping shapes. The paintings sit together in a row, stand beside each other against a wall and form new aesthetic units.
Cimini, who has lived in Manhattan for 20 years and in Jersey City for 3, has always been inspired by urban shapes, old textures and architectural elements. These influences are clearly visible in the way Cimini’s squares, rectangles and other shapes interact like geometric Matroyshka dolls in the same way buildings make skylines and skylines make cities.
In his upcoming shows at MH Art and Framing and Noho Gallery, both in New York City, Cimini will explore the way his pieces interact and focus on shape and scale.
On the small side, the abstract painter has seven-inch squares. On the large side, he has huge works like the 7-foot-tall “ask the giraffe,” a slender painting with earth-tone shapes and vertical movement.
Like all his paintings, “ask the giraffe” contains a golden rectangle, has painted edges only visible from the side and is surprisingly tactile.
Cimini uses palette knives and t-squares to create deep, straight lines between his shapes, uses an oil/wax medium and grinds marble dust into his work.
“There’s a history underneath the work,” said Cimini, who says he tries different things as he paints to add to the work.
“I scrape marble dust into the paint, put turpentine on it,” he said. Cimini even admitted using nails to create his works’ deep edges. “You have to keep trying,” the painter added.
The artist goes on a journey every time he paints and although he sketches his compositions before he begins, he has to address challenges as he goes.
“Sometimes I just say, ‘This isn’t working,’ and figure out what I have to do,” said Cimini.
“I don’t paint from inspiration. My inspiration comes from the work,” he added.
Cimini’s ability to solve problems while he works applies to his daily life as well.
About 3 years ago, the New Yorker was laid off from his job as an advertising art director. In need of a cheaper place to paint, Cimini came to Jersey City and quickly found where he works now.
Cimini fell in love with the city and recently bought himself a condo by his studio.
“Getting laid off was probably the best thing that happened to me,” laughed the artist. “Otherwise, I never would’ve moved to Jersey City.”
Cimini believes this resilience and determination to push through can also help when it comes to painting.
“Something will happen if you keep working,” he said. “The only days you have to go into your studio are the days you don’t want to.”
To see the shapes of Cimini’s life come together, you can view his solo show at Noho Gallery or his exhibit at MH Art and Framing which will also feature artists James Emory Bridges and Michael Tice.
For more information, visit StephenCimini.com.
If you go
Who: Stephen Cimini
What: Painting exhibits
Where: MH Art and Framing, 9 W. 20th St., New York City and Noho Gallery Chelsea, 530 W. 25th St., New York City (solo show)
When: MH Art and Framing from Jan. 29 to Feb. 26, Noho Gallery from Feb. 15 to Mar. 12.
Details: For hours and more information, call MH at (212) 242-1252 or Noho at (212) 367-7063.