Within Reach is an exhibition of new works created throughout 2021 by London-based, South African-born artist Zach Zono and marks his first full-scale solo presentation. The exhibition features 14 oil works created on raw cotton canvas that range from being generous to intimate in scale. Highlighting the artist's core practice, the show demonstrates Zono’s profound interest in internal compositional organisation, delicate colour combinations, and a process rooted in responding to and creating a visual sensation that connects to the eye and the body through movement. Each painting begins with a simple mark, spill, or stroke of colour that damages an untouched canvas.
Zono unleashes his creative freedom by combining his poetic sense of rhythm and elision with self-imposed constraints. The visual interplay between colours, motifs, and gestures are held together by a balance that is neither symmetrical nor systematic. Yet the works produced for Within Reach always retain a sense of ordered harmony. Choices and balance that are perfectly highlighted and reflected in “I knew” with lush and swaying patches of claret as morbid as they are alluring. The sharp pastel blues of the work are simultaneously rigid as they are soothing with flesh-coloured motifs marking a final human intervention.
The artistic choices more often than not reflect the deep dedication and belief in process, they don’t ask to be intellectually exaggerated into meaning just for the sake of being meaningful. The process of mark-making and expression themselves becomes a form of personal storytelling. By creating an interaction of overlapping colours and layers of paint that construct meaning not only on the basis of the gestures that created them, Zono puts faith in the power of painting without explanation but also without justification, or anything more than itself. The results are paintings that when lingered upon, allow us the viewer to embrace our wanderlust, to get lost in the moment, taking us to faraway places, allowing us to forget reality for a minute or maybe more.
Words by: James Ambrose