I seem to recall attending another Strychnin Gallery opening previously on Friday the 13th. However on this occassion I was there to see Chet Zar‘s exhibition “Ugly American”. Arriving early I had a chance to take in all of the exhibition and meet a few people, including the artist himself.
I found Chet to be a very warm, open and friendly soul. He’s nothing like his paintings. As he puts it, his intent with his paintings is to reflect back the ugliness he sees around himself in Los Angeles. He’s worked extensively in the movie industry. He had found it rewarding, but now is very happy to progressing to a life as a full time painter, as he did not enjoy the ugly side of Hollywood. This I surmize has given him endless inspiration for his artwork.
I whipped out a copy of Metamorphosis for him to sign for Jon Beinart and myself. My bag went home a little heavier as I also purchased a catalogue of Chet’s artwork. There was also a hard bound limited edition, but this was a little beyond my budget for the moment.
Laurie Lipton who will also be exhibiting with Strychnin Gallery again in Berlin, also attended the opening. So it was a very social evening talking to the artists, other guests, Yasha Young (the gallery owner) and her lovely staff.
Chet’s artwork glowed, although the themes were monsters. He indicated that the colour theme was different to what he usually works with. He went on to explain that he was inspired by a dream with incredibly luminescent colours. It is always interesting seeing the real personality of a painting. The layering, brush strokes, technique, all of the things that are lost in four colour process printing or a digital image on a website. The image is always flattened. It was therefore a real joy to see the detail and masterful layering of Chet’s original artwork.
The night lengthened with the conversations, and eventually closing time arrived. Having already been engaged in a number of stimulating conversations, Chet, his friends, myself and mine, all trooped off to a local bar in the Truman Brewery around the corner. This lasted for one drink, until a bright spark pointed out that there were lonely beers waiting for us back at the gallery.
With a less distracting atmosphere, we settled on the gallery floor until the early hours of the morning for further existential and philosophical discussions.
We all eventually parted ways, leaving Chet to bed down in the guest room at the gallery, and ourselves to seek our repose. Did we all dream of monsters that night, or of the comrade in paint?
You can see Chet’s works for yourself at Strychnin Gallery London, 65 Hanbury Street, London E1 5J, UK.
Photos by Iris Bitter of Strychnin Gallery.