Interview: Ernest Zacharevic

Ernest Zacharevic or better known as ZACHAS in the art world, is a Lithuaninan native who studied his way through life, but discovered street art and is now rather permanently based in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. He started out young, scribbling with crayons on his dad’s newspaper, which then transformed into art school in his hometown, Vilnius, Lithuania. After he graduated, he went to art academy to study graphic arts. ZACHAS found the experience too conservative and too much of a replication of his art school time. That is why he decided to move to London. His motive to move was that he wanted to experience new cultures, perspectives and meet new people. He now has a pretty large following of fans who dig his technique of interplay with mural and sculpture for an integrated third dimensional experience.  By focusing on the spontaneity of children’s play, Zacharevic can tap into the original instincts of adult viewers who may have lost their ability to access their playful nature. His street work is unpretentious and sometimes ingenious, while steadily staying away from being cloying or overly sentimental.

Street art United States caught up with the artist who is currently in Barcelona on his first ever solo show at Montana Gallery.

Montana Gallery, Barcelona 2Could you tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from and how did you get started in the urban art scene?
I was doodling since I can remember myself and at some point my parents decided to take me to an art school. So my professional art education started that I was eleven. It was a very conservative boarding art school with Greek heads and not much creativity. Afterwards I went to study in London were I graduated with Fine Art BA.

It was the opposite – a lot of  conceptualism, not much structure. Graffiti was always there, like a parallel world which for me constituted freedom. However, I see myself more of a fine artist who paints in the streets rather than street artist.

Could you describe the development process of your artwork?
Sometimes I get inspired by architecture or the atmosphere of a place and spend time thinking for a site-specific interaction or I have an idea and I look for a right place. Usually I work with portraits so I always walk with my camera taking pictures of what I see. Later I translate it to my artwork.
Montana Gallery, Barcelona

How much does your art affect or influence your everyday life and are there any role models or artists who inspired you?
I travel so much that it defines my artwork – things I see, people I meet, however in the end of the day, it’s all in your head. I live as a full time artist, so art is my lifestyle, that’s something I do most of my time and naturally it defines my interactions with outside world.

Stavanger Nuart 2013(photo © Martha Cooper)Has your style developed throughout the years?
It’s hard to judge myself,  I usually concentrate on what’s waiting ahead. But one can take a look at my website, where some of my old artworks are displayed as well as my zoetrope and animation pieces.

What are your thoughts on the way the internet is influencing the artworld?
Whenever a new media appears, it challenges older media and reshapes the landscape, then people start shouting that it’s immoral, but in my opinion media does not hold a content in itself, but is shaped by people. Internet influences a lot how artwork spreads and the speed of consumption, but it is more to do with deeper underlying structures of thought and anthropological contexts.

Which countries have you visited to paint so far and where did you like it best?
I am a traveler, so it’s hard to list all of the countries, but to mention few: Belgium, Germany, Spain, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Japan, Italy, Lithuania. All of the experiences are interesting.

Have you painted in the USA? If so, how was your experience like?
I have not been to USA yet, but I have a trip planned this summer to LA, Atlanta and NYC where I have few projects and exhibitions going.

How was your first ever Solo show in Barcelona? How did that came about?
Montana Gallery has invited me for a residency in Barcelona. I had a month to roam the streets, collect rubbish and explore. The end result is the show.

Montana Gallery, Barcelona 3Is there a message in your art?
Once the artwork is completed, I let them live their own lives and if there is a message, it is completely up to the person looking at it what he sees.

What do you do when you are not creating art? What are your hobbies?
I juggle. It’s called diabolo and I’ve been doing it for more than ten years. I also spend a lot of time with my dogs.

What’s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?
Now I am working on social project together with Urban Nation and Olly Studio’s in Kaunas Young Offender’s institution, where I am going to spend ten days, do some workshops, paint inmates inside and outside of the prison. Afterwards there’s Memorie Urbana festival in Italy and then back to Asia.
Singapore, 2013
Any words of advice for aspiring new artists?
People always try to make artists see their career seriously, but the most important thing is to have fun and stay consistent with yourself and  everything else comes.

Thanks Ernest for your time, and we hope to see you this summer when you swing by stateside. Until then keep amaze us with your beautiful artworks.

Ernest Zacharevic

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