Etienne Zack “Mind Pictures”

Etienne Zack “Mind Pictures” April 12 – May 25, 2024

Etienne Zack‘s inaugural solo show with us is a moving visual experience.  His work defies categorization where his intensely detailed canvases are both abstract and representational.  Described in the past as mind landscapes, complex stage sets or mosaics of dreamlike abandon, the environments that he creates push the parameters of what constitutes painting.  With this new body of work, Zack merges traditional materials, text, language and photo transfers to paint the process of his thinking.

Based on copious notes that he makes for each artwork, Zack’s paintings are “a material response intended at understanding perception amidst a barrage of images”.  From previously visited landscapes that are missing key details to closely documented real-time abandoned interiors, the paintings are perceptual journeys.  They mirror each other and reflect our present-day existence in a digital age.


Read Etienne Zack’s Exhibition Catalogue HERE

“”Mind Pictures” is a series of works that merge painting, text, language and photo transfers. This work serves as a material response intended at understanding perception amidst a barrage of images. The genesis of this series of new works stemmed from an online experiment employing an AI image-generating program fuelled by intricate text prompts. Historically, I’ve relied mostly on my memory to conceptualize my works.

Given this way of making work, I wondered if I could describe to the AI image generating program an image I had in mind, so that it would give me examples that matched my inner picture. As the exercise progressed, I found myself unable to recall the initial images I had in mind. This was quite a surprise. It felt as though my memory was being held hostage. Through this process, I gained insight into the interplay between the human brain and technology. This series portrays the sensation of that experiment, through the language of painting. This series does not incorporate AI-generated images.

The map-like landscapes convey a world perceived en masse—a coded experience, a terrain not necessarily made for human perception. The images found online are assembled together as a journey. Although the pictures are edited to aid my own recall of places I have visited, they remain boundless. As if gazing back from a futuristic perspective, these paintings often convey the sensation of viewing our environments through an old-world lens. The acrylic and oil paintings are often mirror images, loosely translated from the image transfer works. They are works of translation and an ode to painting.

The paintings of interior scenes are akin to a mind landscape, almost as if glimpsing into someone’s mind. The painted text on the surface stems from personal notes and research. The narratives are internal dialogues on the interface between technological systems, the language of painting and myself thinking through them.The text is applied directly onto the painted surface using stencils. As the stencil is reused, paint begins to obliterate the previous characters. This material process simultaneously reveals and conceals my recorded thoughts. As each layer accumulates, the narrative becomes garbled, confetti-like.

These paintings contemplate the remarkable endurance of the language of painting in synthesizing, translating and thinking through diverse realities. Painting here functions as a form of writing and reading technology intricately reflecting the depths of the human mind and its psychology.”

Etienne Zack

Born in Montréal, Canada (1976), Etienne Zack moved to Vancouver, Canada in 1997. He was based in Los Angeles between 2010 and 2016, and now resides in Washington State, USA. Zack studied at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver (2000), Concordia University (1997) and College St-Laurent in Montreal (1996).

Etienne Zack’s paintings serve as code-like environments where paint, language, text, image, history, and architecture merge. He views painting as a dynamic writing and reading technology, challenging norms, and prompting introspection of our perceptual experiences.

Zack’s paintings can be seen through the lens of the painting medium itself, while references to history, literature and architecture are also common terrain. His recent works explore digital spaces, data gathering, and cloud technology’s impact on our memory and concepts of reality.

Noteworthy solo exhibitions include – Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; Bergen Kunsthall, Norway; Thomas Dane Gallery, England; Surrey Art Gallery, Canada; Esker Foundation, Canada and Blackwood Gallery University of Toronto, Canada. His work has been included in numerous exhibitions at Asia Art Center – Taiwan, Hefei Contemporary Museum, Hefei – China, Mass MoCA,- USA, National Gallery of Canada – Canada, Montréal Museum of Art – Canada, The Model Museum – Ireland, Vancouver Art Gallery – Canada, Norwich Gallery – England amongst others.

Zack’s paintings are collected by institutions and museums including the National Gallery of Canada (five works), Art Bank of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery (three works), Montreal Fine Arts Museum, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (two works), National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec, Surrey Art Gallery, Glenbow Museum, City of Montréal, Zabludowicz Collection (London, England) and The Model Museum (Sligo, Ireland) to name a few. His work can also be found in numerous corporate and private collections in the United States, Europe, Scandinavia, Hong Kong, Beijing, Ireland, England and across Canada.

Link to Etienne Zack’s Artist Page HERE