We are pleased to announce the representation of Los Angeles-based artist John Zabawa. His solo exhibition at Francis Gallery – his first in the UK – will launch digitally next month.
Zabawa’s work spans an array of mediums including painting, illustration, music, and graphic design. He works in both figurative and abstract expressions, and offers his Gateway paintings – a series of diptychs combining two blocks of warm colour – as a glimpse into his art-making process. “The way I think about painting is like sculpture: chipping away at the excess material until I find a true final form,” he says. “When I develop a visual idea, I always begin with two colours. I think the eye recognises colour before it understands form – humans have an immediate, instinctive reaction to colour, and then perhaps milliseconds later, they recognise the object. With these paintings, I aimed to distil scenes or figures into their bare essence, represented by two colours.”
After graduating from high school, Zabawa moved to Chicago to study at Columbia College Chicago, where he immersed himself in graphic design, fine art, and industrial design. “Studying design has influenced my art practice. It gives me perspective and understanding about process, methodology, and conceptual thinking,” he says. He held his first show of paintings in Chicago in 2018, titled So Many People, before moving to Los Angeles, where he now lives and works. The abundant plant life there has since found its way into his work, including the distinctive form of eucalyptus leaves. “Eucalyptus trees are just beautiful,” he says. “There are so many of them around here; I’ve become enamoured with them. I’m obsessed with their geometry and their smooth bark. It’s poetry how that tree grows. I think being inspired by flora is something many Angelinos feel.”
Words: Ollie Horne
Photo: Justin Chung