© 2019 by Stephen Zanker

Exhibition information

Individual portraits, Adelaide based members of our community, each with a personal story to tell, to other individuals like yourself. We are all here together.

I promise to deliver my very best artwork for your viewing pleasure. I have also created a concept which takes this exhibition beyond my brush strokes towards the individual message and unique personal story each person behind the portrait carries with them through life. I hope that this is somewhat enlightening and adds value to our greater understanding of all our places within this same society.

Notes from the artist

My concept for this exhibition was to choose a variety of South Australian people and paint their portraits. I painted these portraits over several months and was faced with many challenges. Although I have painted several portraits that I have been proud of in the past I wanted to bring something unique and special into these ones for this particular exhibition. I set myself a difficult task of experimenting with some new styles using various mediums including acrylic spray paint, charcoal and acrylic paint. The theme of this exhibition being “The Voices Beyond the Portraits” was chosen because I also wanted to bring some aspect of the individual’s personality and or story out in the portrait. What I did not expect was the emotional and mental battles I would face while constructing and painting these pieces.

As these portraits were painted over several months, every single day I set to work I was carrying with me my own emotional battles into the studio. This caused a continual push and pull between allowing myself to be completely free and creative while having to pull myself back or walk away in frustration and attempt to add more layers at a later date. The colours you see in these paintings are most likely reflective with the moods and battles in my own mind while painting these portraits. While my aim was to match colours to the best of my ability to the subjects I was channeling and trying to empathise with them, my own emotions and thoughts were continually rising up and I was faced with a constant battle to rise above these to put myself back into control of the painting process. I guess you could say that the end result is a fusion of the entire process described above.

Some of the paintings did not start as they are seen today. There were several times I had to gesso over the top of a painting, repair / fix it in some way form or another or just completely discard the idea or canvas I had originally.

Other challenges I faced while setting up this exhibition included how I was going to hang these pieces. Having chosen a heritage listed building I was not allowed to hang the final pieces onto the walls. This meant that I had to invent, design, build and construct the very stands that these pieces are displayed on for this exhibition. The help of my close friends and people around me were pivotal in achieving this process. Having invented a design my friends and family helped me gather the resources, work out some technical and engineering details and lend me some tools so that I could get this done. This also added many hours to this exhibition and a lot of frustration, creative energy and finally joy.

Towards the final months I had left getting this exhibition together I made the mistake of comparing several completed images to other artists I had seen online. In a moment of weakness and depression I was ready to grab every painting I had painted tear them all to pieces and burn them, viewing myself as a hopeless artist with very little talent after all. This is another example of the strong emotional battles I faced and had to overcome by continual persistence, courage, transmutation, meditation and once again the support of my close friends, family and others I have grown to know online.

Although this exhibition for me has been an emotional and mental roller coaster, the challenges and opportunity to overcome these moments and present these final pieces for you has been an opportunity for me to evolve personally and see the world in a different way. I hope that it somehow adds value to my community.

Thank you

Stephen Zanker

Personal message from the artist

Please note the location is the Adina Treasury not the Adina Grand :)

Notes about the pieces in this exhibition

Initially I had a list of over 10 people to paint. The people who made it into this exhibition were those who took the time to sit down with me and allow me to get to know them better, or a selection of the many friends who have had the pleasure of getting to spend time with in this lifetime. I did attempt to paint a couple of community members who I didn’t really know but I felt like I lacked the empathetic connection and knowledge of who they really were to put my heart and soul into these pieces.

I have found as an artist it is easier to paint people I know well or in regards to musicians / famous people have inspired me in some way form or another. Unfortunately, the problem with painting people I have never met or who have since passed away is my only connection to them is what the media has portrayed or what documentaries have covered. As an artist I prefer to get to know the people I paint and feel I can flow into these pieces a lot better and have a lot more fun creatively.

I have found that my style slightly changes with each person I painted in this exhibition. I have used mixed media and not the traditional means I have used to paint previous portraits which can be found on my website in my portfolio. I wanted to keep in mind the person I was painting from more an emotional and empathetic point of view, taking into account the stories they have told me, their heritage and ancestor, values, beliefs and life choices. This is reflective that we are all images in this world yet we all have unique qualities to contribute. Although we might not like the style or qualities used in each person, we are all in this world together and each style and quality have a part to play in the entire community. I have chosen to bring this together using a couple of similarities in the paintings with an essence of street style using spray paint. I have also added unique symbols or qualities to various people’s portraits which I will discuss in their individual descriptions.

South Australian's featured in this exhibition

Exhibition Details

Adina Treasury Tunnel

2 Flinders Street Adelaide

August 10 - 15th