Michael Zwack presents a group of color drawings focusing on the faces of figures seen singly or in pairs. The imagery is derived primarily from American and European news magazines. Zwack uses color pigment in powder form which is rubbed into the paper. The features of his subjects emerge through layers of interacting deep color — visages in a smokey field suggesting a generalized sense of pathos rather than specific narrative or characterization. Recalling the psychological depth of Symbolism, these drawings of reduced detail arouse a curiosity about circumstance much like old faded photographs while also referring to the poor quality and loss of specifics of most contemporary newspaper and magazine productions.
"His veils of color show a mood unveiled, an emotional tone embedded in a moment so specific it cannot be detached from the devices which picture it forth. That's why his faces, pushed by his process so deep into the paper, are so close to the surface, as if Zwack has worn his high-art conventions down to snapshot immediacy." Carter Ratcliff, Illustrations & Allegory, exhibition catalogue, Brooke Alexander Gallery
"While traditional American figurative art maintains its need for a background to envelope each figure, the new art, such as can be seen in the work of Zwack, represents outline, figurative images in the background like a theatrical performance without a stage." Achille Bonito Oliva, Genus Loci, catalogue essay
"Each artist (Longo, Sherman, Zwack), by using an overused type of imagery, is able to bypass the need to become involved in formal concerns of art-making. Their use of the common imagehas progressed a step from the Pop artists who merely placed those images in an art context. These three artists use them as a receptacle for some more personalized and mysterious feelings about place and person." Linda Cathcart, Arts Quarterly
Michael Zwack was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1949 and studied at SUNY. He was one of the founders of Hallwalls, Buffalo's only alternative art space. Zwack has had one-person shows at Hallwalls; the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo; Artists Space, New York; and Studio Cannavielo, Milan. His work has been in group shows in the U.S., Canada, and Italy, most recently in "Genus Loci," a traveling exhibition organized by Achille Bonito Oliva. Zwack is a recipient of a CAPS grant and an NEA Artists Fellowship.