Is there one surrealist who has had a strong influence in your work?
It depends what you mean by Surrealist. H.R. Giger would be a big one. I think he is kind of considered a surrealist. Zdzisław Beksinski is another but I don’t know if he is referred to as a surrealist.
What philosophies or belief systems do you use as a dashboard to navigate the subconsciousness?
Art, primarily. Meditation is also a great way.
How do you think non ordinary reality will effect reality in the future?
One thing I see happening already is that I see more people willing to see the parallels between science and things that were previously only defined in the realm of magick and spirituality thanks to quantum theory.
Have medicinal mind altering plants and meditation contributed to any insights into your work or process?
Well, I think both have given me insights into everything so that includes my work I guess. Both things help you to see things more clearly and deeply. But most of the biggest insights I have gotten from these 2 techniques have been mostly in the realm of the self
what is the value of ugliness and how can it be used in healing the mind?
I think on some level we all feel ugly to some degree. Even beautiful people have things about themselves that they think are ugly. It almost seems like it’s part of being human. So in that way ugliness is a universal thing and in that way, art that portrays ugliness can help to process that. Also, there is a lot of ugliness in the world, how people treat each other and deep in our psyches. I don’t consider my artwork ugly though. I always try and make my paintings beautiful. But I might have a twisted view of what beauty is.
Born on November 12th, 1967, in the harbor town of San Pedro, CA, Chet Zar’s interest in art began at an early age. His parents were always very supportive and never put any limits on his creativity. His entire childhood was spent drawing, sculpting and painting.
Zar’s interest in the darker side of art began in the earliest stages of his life. A natural fascination with all things strange fostered within himself a deep connection to horror movies and dark imagery. He could relate to the feelings of fear, anxiety and isolation that they conveyed. These are themes which had permeated most of his childhood drawings and paintings and are reflected in his work to this day.
The combined interest in horror films and art eventually culminated into a career as a special effects make up artist, designer and sculptor for the motion picture industry, designing and creating creatures and make up effects effects for such films as, “The Ring”, “Hellboy I & II”, “Planet of the Apes” and the critically acclaimed music videos for the art metal band Tool. Zar also embraced the digital side of special effects as well, utilizing the computer to translate his dark vision with 3D animation for Tool’s live shows and subsequently releasing many of them on his own DVD of dark 3D animation, “Disturb the Normal”.
But the many years spent dealing with all of the politics and artistic compromises of the film industry left Zar feeling creatively stagnant. At the beginning of 2000 (at the suggestion of horror author Clive Barker), he decided to go back to his roots and focus on his own original works and try his hand at fine art, specifically painting in oils. The result has been a renewed sense of purpose, artistic freedom and a clarity of vision that is evident in his darkly surreal (and often darkly humorous) paintings.
His artistic influences include painter James Zar (stepfather and artistic mentor), Beksinski, H.R. Giger, Frank Frazetta, M.C. Escher, Bosch, John Singer Sargent and Norman Rockwell just to name a few.
Interview by Mitchell Pluto