The New Contemporary Art Magazine

HF Feature: Chet Zar/James Zar:”When Worlds Collide”

The month of May is home to a very unique display of talent. The amazing Chet Zar(v.11) will be showcasing a group of new works alongside his father, fantastic narrative artist James Zar. The exhibit, "When Worlds Collide," opening May 16th at L'Imagerie, will feature the latest and greatest of each master painter's forte. The fellas have been gracious enough to take some time to give us sneak peek into the new works, as well a few thoughts on a variety of subjects. Follow along as we journey into the worlds of this mighty father/son duo...Complete exclusive interview, studio shots, and more here!

The month of May is home to a very unique display of talent. The amazing Chet Zar(v.11) will be showcasing a group of new works alongside his father, fantastic narrative artist James Zar. The exhibit, “When Worlds Collide,” opening May 16th at L’Imagerie, will feature the latest and greatest of each master painter’s forte. The fellas have been gracious enough to take some time to give us sneak peek into the new works, as well a few thoughts on a variety of subjects. Follow along as we journey into the worlds of this mighty father/son duo…

The two person exhibit format is elevated to a new level in the upcoming show, “When Worlds Collide: New works from Chet Zar” and James Zar. This display is a testament to lifetimes of dedication and devotion to their craft – the painting of fantastic and vivid portrayals of the sublime and apocalyptic. It’s a very rare situation indeed that allows the father / son dynamic such a unique spotlight in which to shine. But throughout the month of May and into June, the walls of L’Imagerie Gallery will provide just that.

Chet Zar – The Outsider, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches

James Zar – Venus Rising, oil on canvas, 48 x 24 inches

This upcoming exhibit, When Worlds Collide, has been a true labor of love for you both. How long has this idea been something you’ve wanted to pursue?

Chet: We had been talking about it for a couple of years so we finally decided to go for it and put something together and get a gallery interested. Debi Jabobson at L’Imagerie Gallery is a fan of both of our work, so I presented it to her. She was very into the concept of a father/son show where the father and son are painting surreal dimensions at total opposite ends of the spectrum.

James: Well, I think it started about two years ago, when Chet really broke free from the movie industry and devoted himself to exploring what his heart dictated – not what would sell, or what was in vogue. One day, or a point in time, we probably both can’t recall, it became almost comically apparent to both of us that our individual paths were basically polar opposites. His, the psychological dark side of the human psyche and mine the light side. We both were struck with the juicy idea that here is the perfect marriage of opposites that life uses to balance all creation – light and dark , night and day, good and bad. We both decided on what a unique show this would make.

Chet Zar – Fellowship, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches

Being a father / son show, did you find that the way you approached creating the work had changed from your usual mindset?

Chet: My approach was about as loose as it usually is. The only running thread for me is for it to feel right to my sensibilities. The real difference for me was to try and compliment my dad’s work, so I did some larger pieces and more full figures rather than the head and shoulder portraits I usually paint.

James: I don’t think the show influenced our individual mindsets at all. This show will work because one style basically has nothing to do with the other. And yet, I feel a weird harmony because of this fact. This corresponds with a core belief of mine that God creates uniqueness not sameness.

James Zar – The Fire Below, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches

Can you share with us a little of what any of the stories or concepts that went into these paintings, or any pieces in particular?

Chet: I know to some it may sound disappointing, but I usually don’t have a fixed concept or story before I start. I usually do by the end of the painting process. It feels so much more fun to have no restrictions regarding a subject matter other than my own aesthetic tastes. I really operate in a non verbal, non linear way when it comes to art. I have a hard time describing the work because it feels like it is its own language conveying emotions more than anything else.

James: The driving force or theme of all my visionary art is that Mind is multidimensional in nature. My art strives to resemble dream scenarios that point to the ultimate reality that everything is actually everything else, dancing and singing behind the diverse masks of “ALL THERE IS”. God learns about God by creating unique forms of unlimited possibilities.

Chet Zar studio – custom frame edges, sketches, works in progress

If someone completely new to your work came into the show, what one thing would you hope they take away with them from the experience?

Chet: That dark and light are two ends of the same spectrum, that they are interdependent. And art is a safe way to explore these kinds of ideas, whether it’s the death and gloom of my work or the fantastic mysticism of my dad’s. I think it’s really funny how our work is so different yet we get along so well personally and share similar views on life and spirituality.

James: He/She would think: Wow! I may not be sure I know what this means, but this is fantastic!

Chet Zar – The Guardian in progress

What else is going on when you’re painting? Do you listen to music, just think about life, work on other things?

Chet: These days I usually listen to my sattelite radio, in the morning Howard Stern, then I listen to Old Time Radio dramas in the afternoon. I like the old horror shows and crime dramas from the 40’s and 50’s. It’s funny stuff. Sometimes I listen to music or put a movie on. I also like to talk on the phone while I paint. Anything to help me zone out and not really think too much about what I am doing helps me to paint from that place I did as a child.

James: When I first started painting I used to listen to music, but now I work out of a meditative silence that can shift gears and make decisions faster than the thinking mind could ever understand. Your own work should shock and surprise you. This is the adventure of creation itself!

Chet Zar – The Visitor, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Is this work part of a larger body of paintings, a storyline, or works unto themselves?

Chet: My pieces are definitely works unto themselves, although I imagine that they all exist in the same dimension. I can see all of my characters getting together for tea.

James: My work is, and always will be, a constant storyline. It is always a continuation of my innermost desire to dance to the mystery of life, out of that silent song of life, that is in all of us!

James Zar – Abundance, oil on canvas

After this exhibition, what lies ahead for you? What will you tackle next?

Chet: I have a solo show at the Copro gallery in the fall so I need to get started on that. I have also recently been added to the artist roster of the famed Morpheus gallery, so I need to make a really epic piece for them. I also have plans for a big Travis Louie collaboration piece that we are both really excited about. So there is plenty to do. I’d also like to do more showings with my dad as well and maybe a collaborative piece with him. I should probably get some rest first, though.

James: I hope this exhibition will raise enough excitement to where Chet and I will be in demand to show in other places or to return to L’ Imagerie once a year to renew different forms of how worlds collide. In any event, Chet’s work stands alone as a driving force in the ever widening popularity of “dark visionary art”. I just love his work. His psychological monsters are alive and filled with insight and great humor! I’m so proud to be the father of such a loving genius.

Chet Zar in the studio, working on The Dance

James Zar in the studio

And as we wish you a fond farewell, we have one last question: Is there some great concept or piece that you’ve always wanted to create? If you had unlimited, or full funding through an entire project or work, what sort of masterpiece would you create?

Chet: I think I would do a sculpture show. Imagine realistic, painted busts of the characters in my paintings. That’s what I wanted to do from the beginning but time and money put that on hold. Once I don’t have to worry about selling so much, I would like to do it. I think it would make a great show.

James: Well, this creating force is an unquenchable flame and if I could do it, I would probably create a huge mural (say twenty by forty feet) charting, from left to right, the evolving consciousness of our race to the point where we were all rambunctious, fun loving exponents of this great mystery of life; great caretakers of the earth and each other.

Tatsu guarding the new work, Enlightenment

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