Make me an offer, says artist
Jordan Zancanella is a self-taught artist whose work borrows heavily from his experiences.
He discovered his talent after “a dark period” about 20 years ago led him to “turn to art as a form of existential expression”.
“Most of my artwork relies heavily on Jungian archetypes and the idea of Jungian alchemy if you’re into ecology and that sort of thing - and very existential themes.”
It was born out of his desire to become a priest. Although ultimately Mr Zancanella didn’t pursue that passion, it led him to read “a lot of philosophy, existential philosophy, Nietzsche, Socrates, Augustine – stuff like that”.
“And I came up with the idea of trying to communicate my ideas Jungian ideas – Jungian alchemy, Jungian archetypes that reflect subconscious, where I could channel my spiritual ideas, I guess you could say, in a more philosophical way, which everybody can appreciate.”
He started painting with acrylics before moving on to pastels because the colours “express more”.
“The colours are so much more vibrant,” he said. “Nobody else is doing it this way in Bermuda as far as I can see. Everybody's making the more impressionist sort of stuff that they can sell to tourists. This is a niche market I'm trying to capitalise on.”
He decided to show his work at the Bermuda National Library because of “disappointing” experiences with dedicated art galleries.
“I tried exhibiting in some of the local galleries but the local art scene, as far as I can tell, is different from say New York, where it’s run as a business. A lot of the galleries here are run as a charity.
“I lost a lot of faith in the fact that my work wasn't really being promoted the way that I felt that I needed it to be. So I decided to handle the business side myself.”
Through his website, bdaarts.com, he has managed to promote and sell “a few pieces” of his work.
“There was a collector who was buying some work. He was training to be a psychologist himself; that was a little while ago.
“I’ve displayed a couple of times, but mostly I've been promoting myself, going online on Facebook and things like that. This is the first major solo show that I've had in a while.”
Mr Zancanella has “close to 50 pieces” on display on the top floor of the Queen Street library.
“A lot of paintings got destroyed by mistake. In my apartment what happens is I leave them lying around on the floor and I [might walk on it or paint drops on it] if I don't sell it off right away.
“Originally I planned to put up 70 pieces but after I went through a lot of the work I realised some of them weren't in good condition.”
Roughly half of the work on display is “very new”and the rest done in the past two years.
The lockdowns brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic slowed his output - “money was tight” and his ability to buy painting supplies was limited.
About 20 years ago doctors diagnosed that he was bipolar. Mr Zancanella believes the mental disorder has helped him create.
“To be honest I was very ashamed of it for a long time. People made jokes about me behind my back but, it sort of hit me in a certain place that I really do know my left from my right and I can tell that in my artwork.”
Now 40, he started painting as a hobby about a decade ago and began to “get serious maybe over the last few years”.
“Actually I wanted to be a writer at one point but I met a girl at a coffee shop. We were just having a conversation and she just looked at me and turned to her friend and said, ‘This guy's an artist. He doesn't know it. He should start painting.’ I took her advice and I just I bought my supplies and I just started.
“I never really took lessons or anything like that. I spent a long time experimenting with different materials. I think I’ve really found my niche with pastels.
“What I usually do I work with them in an unconventional way – I don't work on pastel paper like you're supposed to, I wet the pastel pigment with water and I paint like that so it actually looks like a watercolour acrylic.
“I mix the wet pastel pigment with acrylic paint for added effect instead of just drawing on pastel paper and fixing it the normal way like you’re supposed to do.”
Although people say they love his work, many don’t buy fearing the price will be more than they can afford, Mr Zancanella said.
“A lot of people don't realise I keep my prices low, especially as they’re unframed.
“I like to think that Bermudians eventually will be the judge of the value of this artwork – if it is supposed to be a possible business if, for example, you look at artwork as an investment. Hopefully when the economy picks up, things will get better.
“The thing about artwork it is considered a luxury item. People just don't really buy it in an economy where people are worried about Covid-19 or recessions or worse.
“My hope is just to get the word out right now. My prices are very competitive. The paintings are selling for $75 each and prices are negotiable.”
An exhibit of Jordan Zancanella’s work is on at the Bermuda National Gallery until June 4. For more information visit bdaarts.com
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