Chet Zar

Chet Zar
Chet Zar’s site has a subtitle of “Painter of Dark”. In addition to being a good sendup of a certain franchise gallery painter, it’s a pretty concise description of the tone of his work.

In his gallery work, Zar paints monsters, gruesome, grotesque and deliberately disconcerting. His eerie “portraits” glare out at you with glazed, bloodshot, and sometimes absent, eyes; grimacing, grinning or open mouthed in apparent shock, perhaps from looking at the preceding or following monster, each more gruesome than the next.

He creates his monstrous faces with highly defined textures. High-contrast areas of light and dark combine to suggest leathery, wrinkled skin, sometimes dark and weathered, at other times veinous and pale, as if insufficiently protected against some caustic environment. His palette for each piece is controlled within a limited range, but rich with subtle variation.

Zar has also applied his talent for creating monsters, and other characters, to a career in movie special effects, creating sculptural prosthetic make up and effects for films like Planet of the Apes, The Ring, Darkman, Hellboy and X-Men 3.

There is also a gallery of Zar’s work on the beinArt Surreal Art Collective, and his work is included in their Metamorphosis collection (see my post on Metamophosis and the beinArt Collective).

Zar is an instructor at the Gnomon Workshop and their site includes a brief bio and a gallery of his work. It also features an instructional DVD, Digital Creature Painting with Chet Zar.

His most recent show is at the Copra Nason Gallery in Santa Monica until May 31, 2008. There is a gallery of image on the gallery’s site.

Wikipedia has a post on Chet Zar, through which I learned that he is the stepson of James Zar, a fascinating fantasy and still life painter who will undoubtedly be the subject of a future post.


10 Replies to “Chet Zar”

  1. a good sendup of the “painter of light,” old whatsisface. thomas kinkade.

    this guy is clearly not just the opposite in emphasizing “dark,” or in painting figures rather than landscapes, but also in being able to really communicate feelings and arresting expressions and complicated stories in just one figure…. i’ll hold my tongue about my opinion of kinkade’s work.

  2. SIGNING @ Orbital Comics: American Artist CHET ZAR , 14th June 2008, 3-5pm

    Addresss: Orbital Comics, 148 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0LB UK

    This will be a rare chance to meet makeup effects artist, sculptor, painter, digital effects artist and creature designer in the niche field of Special Makeup Effects CHET ZAR in London, at Orbital Comics.

    He’ll be signing and giving away a limited number of Catalogues, and there will also be a limited edition catalogue for sale on the day which features 13 all new pieces of art as well as a few older pieces and includes a forward written by Adam Jones. Bring down your portfolio’s and he’ll give you advice on starting a career in art and design.

    Zar has also applied his talent for creating monsters, and other characters, to a career in movie special effects, creating sculptural prosthetic make up and effects for films like
    FANTASTIC 4 – sculpting and painting for ‘The Thing’
    HELLBOY- Hellboy arm design, sculpture and painting
    PLANET OF THE APES – ape design, sculpture and painting.
    X Men 3 – creature design.

    When you look at Chet Zar’s paintings, you will realize an inescapable truth: We are the monsters.

    The Ugly American show premiers in London, 13th June in the Strychnin Gallery London – 65 Hanbury Street – London E1 5JP (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *