AboutZach Walsh is an artist with a fine sensibility and abundant skill. He produces work that appeal on a number of levels but never seems trivial or commonplace. His works are about linking with people, finding a connection with them then representing this insight on canvas. For us as spectators we receive a glimpse into the life of another and as in all great portraiture, we feel as if we have been let into some secret about that person.
Zach was born in Manchester but has spent most of his adult life away from that great city. As an undergraduate he studied fine art in Liverpool School of Art and then went onto the Royal College of Art to do an MA in Illustration. Since finishing his studies he has remained in London where he has exhibited widely in galleries, both solo and group shows, as well as showing as far away as Mexico and in France and Ireland. Wherever his work is seen it has been admired for its poise and sincerity.
For his first solo show at Signal Gallery, Zach is taking on a more defined project than before in his career. Called âCottonopolis' it is about his childhood hometown and its people. The title âCottonopolis' come from a 19th Century nickname for Manchester and once you know this it instantly implies nostalgia for a past that was perhaps more proud and unique. Through the subjects he paints he hopes to capture the defiance and resilience of the people and place them in settings that reflect the changing city.
The first step in this project was to record in small films and photographs a range of family and friends. He then asked them a series of questions that were designed to draw out their reactions to be being a âMancunian' and how they viewed the changing city around them. The reactions were lively and revealing. One man when asked what was the best and worst thing about Mancunians replied that the best was their arrogant attitude and their worst was their arrogant attitude. These films and photographs have become a rich source of raw material for the artist as well as a moving and amusing record of contemporary Manchester.
All the paintings and drawings in the show will use some reference to the city as a way of defining and placing the subjects. As the artist describes âHard edged structures and the repetition of patterns found in the architectural expressions are delegated to highlight characteristics of each individual with the goal of blurring the distinction of a city and its people.'
âCottonopolis' promises to be an exciting and stimulating show, taking the artist to new levels of technical achievement and depth of feeling.