"My life, my world view and my experiences dance together in a unique way that is manifest in my art." - Castien Zola.
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Born in Canberra, ACT 1985, Castien has been a practicing artist for most of his life and has explored many creative forms of expression. As a child he was captivated by the details of the natural world, spending many hours recreating it in scale model scenery of mountains, trees and buildings.
A move to Sydney, NSW some years later exposed him for the first time to graffiti and street art, which opened him to the potential of art as expression, gave him a sense of purpose and accelerated his artistic journey. While on this path, Castien met his first great inspiration, a Polish artist named Peter, who introduced him to radical new ideas. He found European street art to be free and honest, and felt it captured far more energy than he had imagined. Lines became blurred and mistakes became surprise design features. This friendship taught Castien how to let go and trust the artist within.
Playing with letters and seeing how far they could be pushed featured strongly in Castien's art over the next period. Deconstructing and rebuilding letters to the point where they were no longer recognisable. He then moved away from traditional letters and focused on the flow and energy that underpinned their construction. Castien was and remains inspired by calligraphy masters and their brushwork. This inspiration lives on in his work and is evident in his brush strokes.
While Castien spent years in jobs that brought little to no fulfillment, it eventually led him to search for ways to make a living as an artist without selling his soul. As a graffiti artist he was drawn to the rebellious side of life and didn't want to be pinned down. Around this time, the world of tattooing was opening up and proved to be very enticing for the young artist. The idea of living like a pirate, travelling the world, coming and going at will, had him hooked. This love for tattooing opened the door to a whole range of new subjects to draw and paint. Feeling more connected to art than ever, he decided to chase an apprenticeship as a tattoo artist. After trying to convince many bearded intimidating men to give him a chance, he finally had some success.
Working as a tattoo apprentice pushed his artistic abilities and forced him to study and draw things he had previously ignored. Over time, he realised the limitations of tattooing, felt he was stunting his artistic potential and moved on. Castien spent the next year searching for a new direction, which came as an invitation to Hong Kong. Skip forward a few months and Castien was living rough in Hong Kong with his long time friend Danny and money was tight. As a result, Castien ended up working as a tattoo artist again under one of China's masters of the art. While he was exposed to many new and exciting things over the following year living and working in Hong Kong, he understood again that tattooing was too limiting for his creative expression.
Back in Australia Castien focused on creating art without limitations, returned to his roots in graffiti and calligraphy and began to explore new possibilities. Over the next few years he developed a keen sense of artistic freedom and moved away from the traditional forms of lettering into something uniquely his. From that point on Castien has continued to challenge himself as an artist. Having consistently rebelled against traditional art education, he found himself deeply engaged with art history and knowledge. Through learning all he could about the masters who preceded him, Castien found a new and infinitely more powerful source of inspiration. He is now firmly grounded in his own unique expression of life and art.
When I begin a painting I have complete trust in my instincts. One stroke gives birth to the next, one colour calls forth another. Value and composition sit on either shoulder guiding my hand. Some paintings begin with a clear idea, one that relaxes and allows the moment to shine through. The idea grows and changes, it is never locked down. Other paintings begin with a feeling, a movement, or a colour. I allow my subconscious to express itself freely and do my best not to get in its way.
In today's world there is no shortage of powerful inspiration. This beautiful world we share is under threat and it's impossible to ignore. Powerful men desire power above all and at the expense of the natural world. The media distorts information turning truth into lies. Now is the time for powerful art to tell stories of truth about the world we share.
I have been looking for an individualist painter for some timeand can identify with Castien’s uniqueness of style and paint treatment.
Self-taught, his perspective, forms and compositions have a foundation initiated via his graffiti and tattoo artistry.His paint application and richness of colour impress. The sweep of colour and its integration offers an excitement,
often with the use and of a contrast of tone!
There is a focus on the portrait, which is inspired by Castien’s reading, study and observation of the sitter’s character. His ability to extract the multiplicity of a personality within the
subject, highlighting all traits of the person, a completeness.
His interpretation often introduces a whimsy, humour and it is his sense of the person that drives Castien’s ability to express those observations via his own vision that is engaging.
Future compositions will include landscape, figure and the nude, so this is one artist that indicates he has no fear of exploring all boundaries of subject matter. To me that simply reinforces Castien’s confidence in his own development. That is refreshing in itself, a personal character and commitment that is at the heart of the man and the artist himself.
ARTIST EDUCATION: Self taught