Marco Zamora makes paintings that both depict the chaotic, casual surrealism of everyday life, and in their visceral style and manipulated or distressed physical treatment embody that same energy. Inspired directly by his own experiences with uncomfortable situations and the landscape of struggle and joy in working class urban life, Zamora uses photography to capture fleeting moments before transforming the scenes through energetic mixed media painting into conceptually deep and emotionally rich emblems of contemporary society. In 2015 he collaborated with famed artisan glass makers at Judson Studios to create a memorable portrait-based work, which is currently included in the landmark survey of Judson’s innovative history on view at Forest Lawn.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
MARCO ZAMORA: I have drawn since childhood, but at that age I really did not understand what an artist was. Now as an adult I am still finding out what that word means. So, it was not until high school that I realized I really loved making paintings and wanted to pursue it.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
I make paintings from photographs I take of people and objects from / in public spaces. The work explores these relationships. Everyday life, sometimes of people surviving, searching, and holding on.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
Who knows! I never really thought about that.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
Yes, CalArts. I went straight out of high school. Honestly I did not know much about art schools, but I was painting a whole lot and a teacher told me to apply to CalArts (which was not the art teacher, ha!). I wrote about what I was making, applied and I got in. There were other schools I applied to, but CalArts gave you a studio and I was able to explore more with my work so I went.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
It’s my home. I’ve been to other big cities and pondered the idea but can’t seem to leave. I have family and a ton of resources, but most of all I love how diverse the city, opportunities, and people are.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
I’m currently in a group show here in L.A.: Judson Studios: Stained Glass from Gothic to Street Style which is at the Forest Lawn Museum and is up until September 12. I am also pretty excited about a huge Mural Project coming up this summer in Inglewood. Other than that, I literally just cleared the studio, getting ready to focus on a new work.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
Yes I do, but I am all over the place. Lately I have been lending my ear to whatever vinyl I find at thrift shops. Here are the last three albums I found — Tommy: The Who, Eddie Murphy: How Could It Be, Environments: new concepts in stereo sound.