Pop artist Richard Zarzi on Love, Icons and Spiritualism
Richard Zarzi is considered one of the world’s most prominent pop artists working today, having celebrated many icons in his work, including Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, Chanel and Marilyn Monroe. His work, created by projecting images onto a canvas screen, which he further instates with bold light and texture using a mixture of acrylics, resins and diamond dust. The result is a celebration of the icons’ charisma and beauty through his distinctive signature style.
Currently living in London, Richard spoke to Lucy Morris at The London Magazine to tell of his individual inspirations and the journey he took to get to where he is today.
You split your time between London and Cannes. What is it that draws you to each of these places?
London is the international market, it’s easy to mark business with art here. It’s also so full of love and gives me inspiration for my work. The South of France is more superficial and a lot less spiritual than London. I consider London to be the inside of myself and the South of France to be the outside, and when you put them both together, you create a balance.
When was it that you decided you wanted this to be a career for you? And how did you put it into practice?
I came to London a long time ago and started working in a bar and restaurant to learn English, and I stayed there many years. Living in London made me fall in love with the city and it was while I was here that I had my spiritual awakening, a change of consciousness inside that brought me to art.
I began practising abstract art and feeling the energy of people, which completely changed me as a person. After leaving the bar job, I worked in luxury fashion for Dior, Botega, and Etro and I was fascinated about the designs and quality of the items. This is where I started to appreciate opulence and then transferred this knowledge and interest to my art. I originally sold my work to friends before getting seen in art galleries and the success began to follow.
You are considered by some to be one of the top five best pop artists in the world. How do you feel about this assertion?
I feel really very proud. It was a long journey to arrive here and I worked so hard and made so many sacrifices. From the beginning until today, I spent twelve years of hard work, with no companionships. I was always alone but so focused on my work and career and myself.
Things get easier in life when you focus on yourself and your love. For me, it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with love. Many people’s definition of achievement of their work is money and success but true success is the success you find in learning to love and accept yourself. Happiness is my true purpose in life.
How do you include your knowledge of the fashion and marketing industry in your work?
After I stopped working in luxury fashion, I found myself still going into Selfridge’s and Harrod’s to see all of the new items to get inspiration, which subsequently sparked my imagination. I wasn’t copying their work; some people read a lot of books to try and get smarter and others absorb the energies of luxury items, and this is what I do and try to channel it through my work.
Describe how a typical day (or night) goes for you.
Because of Covid, I go to the park every day, feed the birds and the swans. I walk around the lake and park for a long time before heading back home to my studio and start working. What gets me inspired is love – nothing else but love. You give me your love and I will create art.
Can you explain the process that you go through when creating your unique contemporary representation of these iconic figures?
I start with sketches. I take the top-level icon who represents, for me, quality, respect, spiritualism, honesty, beauty and intelligence, and I put my technique on top. I try to achieve the fusion of emotions that I can composition. I try to compare two icons: the spiritual icon and the consumerism icon.
What do you hope to achieve by sharing your art with the world? Is there anything specific you wish the audience would take from your work?
I believe life is all about love. My work is about studying the qualities of the heart and to channel love through my work – to make people happy.
Anything else you would like to share?
During Covid, the gallery I am represented by, the Whitewall Galleries, have really helped a lot of artists. I am blessed to work with them as I feel supported and cared for by them, and I know they have worked so hard to assist each of their artists.
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