Memory Assisted Paintings
If Etienne Zack's paintings resemble construction sites or mines, it is because they bear the marks of a laborious and complex extraction process. This first involves the transfer onto paper or canvas of images that he obtains by entering keywords on search engines. These are words associated with memories of his walks in February 2020 in Beijing and Shanghai. On the result thus obtained, with painting and from painting itself, the artist then recovers distant memories from far banks of the hecatomb before the pandemic revealed itself to the world consciousness. In this alchemical process, the painting medium acts simultaneously as a carrier and revealer, index and trace, sign and signal, when it remits us to the images these walks produce, as well as to the process of their elaboration on the canvas as in the painter's mind. Extracting the original experience uncovers the strata from which and towards which the memory is transplanted. Plants, sidewalks, streets, trees, roofs, fences, cables, and other rubble of time constitute planes propped against each other to patch up the fleeting experience and give it the new home that artistic labour heterotopically constitutes. When Etienne Zack says: "I want to be in every corner of my paintings," he is referring not only to the entire surface of the picture plane but beyond this, to the cardinal horizons towards which the medium of painting projects imagination, where time and space open up to each other to unravel the mesh of words.
Etienne Zack’s work can be seen through the lens of painting yet references to literature,
text, cinema, video, performance, sculpture and architecture are just as common. In his
recent work, Zack has drawn on the digital image, information data gathering and cloud
space storage technologies as significant motifs and agents of affects in our daily
experience of reality. He engages with the bi-directionality of the digital image as a starting
point to consider what pictures can be. His canvasses are code-like environments or mental
maps that consider the many layers in which paint, language, text, image in architectures
come together to articulate our emotional, psychological and physical understanding of
contemporary realities. Philosophically, Zack considers painting as a writing and reading
Noteworthy solo exhibitions include - Etienne Zack: Those Lacking Imagination Take
Refuge In Reality, Esker Foundation, Canada; Etienne Zack, Musée d’art contemporain de
Montréal; According to This, Bergen Kunsthall, Norway; Thomas Dane Gallery, England;
Vision Machine, Surrey Art Gallery, Canada and Lingering Shadows, Blackwood Gallery at
the University of Toronto, Canada.
Zack’s work can be found in institutions and museums including the National Gallery of
Canada, Art Bank of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery, Montreal Fine Arts Museum, Musée
d’art contemporain de Montréal, National Fine Arts Museum of Quebec, Surrey Art Gallery,
Glenbow Museum, City of Montréal, Zabludowicz Collection (London, England) and The
Model Museum (Sligo, Ireland). His work can also be found in numerous corporate and
private collections in the United States, Europe, Scandinavia, Hong Kong, Beijing, China,
Ireland, England and across Canada.