Billy Zane: Seize the Day Bed at Rook & Raven Gallery
In his first UK exhibition, Seize the Day Bed, American artist and actor Billy Zane presents a collection of his signature, abstract paintings at London’s Rook and Raven Gallery. Drawing comparisons with both Abstract Expressionism and Neo-Expressionist movements, Zane takes the very process of painting as his object of investigation. This highly physical act somewhat paradoxically transports Zane to a higher realm of contemplation – he remarks: “For me, the act of painting is a seduction by way of a contradiction. While creating on the ground is labour-intensive work, I am somehow transported beyond the physical. Rather than adding layers of paint, I feel I am digging a tunnel to another land.” Even the title of the exhibition, Seize the Day [an imperative to action] Bed [the very thing halting action] bears the traces of this contraction.
Zane first began to paint while filming the 1997 cult classic, Titanic, setting up a makeshift studio on location and using only locally sourced materials. What started as a pastime grew into a passion, with the artist now erecting a studio in every film location; the notion of locally sourced materials and found objects has become key. Rooted in ”the school of Action Painting”, Zane describes his work as, ”more physical than conceptual”, which can be seen in works such as Byzantium, whose glossy gold smears, pasted on bits of burlap, and exposed areas of canvas combine to create an overwhelming sense of the physical. Similarly, in Fluoride Share Program, a sense of materiality is felt in the layer upon layer of paint. Here thick marks of mauve crack and crumble, breaking away to reveal a layer of turquoise beneath.
Moving around the blank, textureless walls of the gallery, one instantly feels the sense of movement and intensity with which Zane works. Thick, clotted, with acrylic caked onto the surface, Zane’s marks and bric-a-brac materials bare the residue of their making – their very application. These are not the delicate works of naturalism, whose invisible brushstrokes deny their existence and trick the viewer into believing they are what they are trying to represent, but rather the actions of an artist trying to expose the artifice of painting as a whole.
Overall, the exhibition is a concise meditation on the mechanics of painting. Zane proves that he paints as well as he acts, and his understanding of art and its history is even better.
Billy Zane: Seize the Day Bed is at Rook & Raven Gallery until 7th November 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.