Zapgalaxy is a well known Sydney artist working in galleries and on the streets. There isn’t a wide range of written appraisals or knowledge of his practice which is quite wide and varied in media. To understand his work you need to look at Zap’s personal history as a Romanian immigrant. He came to Sydney Australia at the age of seven with his mother. His mother a well educated woman fluent in four languages earned her keep working in the textile trade in Sydney. He and his mother had escaped the crushing communism of Romania and initially lived in Parramatta. They were not greeted warmly by some in the community finding themselves referred to as wogs. This fostered Zap’s interest in science fiction. He was an alien or at least treated like one on his arrival. Comic books were a great way to escape the realities of being in a new country and this became a life long interest and pivotal to his practice. Even the name ‘Zap’ or ‘Zapgalaxy’ is part of his persona as an immigrant and interplanetary comic character. This is sometimes confused with his long term involvement in graffiti art. The reality is the term he uses for his practice is based on careful consideration while firstly studying at TAFE in Meadowbank and later studying at UNSW College of Fine Arts.
Zapgalaxy had a completely different name as a graffiti artist initially and after completing his training in painting and drawing at TAFE he started his Pop Art inspired paintings and devised his name which was a reference to science fiction. Later while at University he worked in Time Based sculpture. His sculptural work was exhibited in the late 90s in a show titled ‘Fantasy’. The idea of ‘fantasy’ in his practice was the sculptural creation of vehicles for escape and enjoyment. His graduation show at university had vehicles that where life sized card board space ships. These reference his art practices ability to escape the world we live in and achieve our own fantasies whatever they may be. In Zap’s case these were to escape the world and become a traveller of space and time. Initially his sculptures were more like models of vehicles finished in a car spray booth for authenticity. The vehicles were based on classic art deco designs and some of the pieces referenced Brancusi. His university sculptural work though referenced his paintings and emphasised technology and its ability to provide new experiences whether real or imagined.
Zap is more well known for his painting work than his sculptures and these works carry on the idea of ‘fantasy’ while showing its narrative but not always in a good light. Sometimes the characters words are disjointed opening up the the idea of fragmentation. Some of the characters are protagonists and others simply observers. In some ways the fragmented narrative of Communism and its promise of emancipation is echoed in the fragmented dialogue. Another reading would be that the promise of emancipation through technology in late Capitalism is simply a nightmare, turning people in hideous creatures bent on destruction. The works in some ways use paranoia as a lead into a bigger narrative. The ‘fantasy’ becomes more complex and hinges on destruction. The various stages of Zap’s art training and life experience have become a galaxy populated by not simply good or bad narratives but good or bad choices. All of his paintings leave the door open to interpretation and possibilities.
Another important point is to understand Zap’s graffiti work. It is an expose of machines based on Romanian folk art and sculptural embellishments found in Romanian architecture from villages to cities. These are not obvious to most Australian audiences and even a quick Google search should bare results as testimony. Zap has tried to remain true to his roots and bringing his own cultural background into his street art work has helped make his work very unique in the landscape.