Colors flow into each other creating shapes and volume. A burst of light here, a touch of deep shadows there. Zan Barrage paints not just what he sees, but also the mood and what he calls “the taste” of the moment. Zan’s artwork is an exploration of light on the Canadian Landscape. He explains it this way: “There is a certain temperature to the light up here, a crispness that is uniquely Canadian. It speaks to me in a harmony of colours. Delicate but savage. Rich but not overwhelming - elegant. I hope it comes through in my work”.
Zan’s journey in art began in war-torn Beirut where he grow up in the 1970’s. Music, poetry and painting were his escapes from the reality around him. He was seven when he got his first watercolour box. A tin box with tons of chalky colours and a horrible brush to go with it. He would sit for hours blending colours, attempting to paint the world around him as it fell apart. Today his box is filled with artist quality paints and his brushes are sable and squirrel. “My tools have changed” He explains, “but the journey is still the same: A love for colours and light, and epic struggles to put these faithfully on paper.”
Classically trained in his youth at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts 1969-1975, Zan is the recipient of several art awards. He is also the founder and past president of Ontario Plein Air Society, a group of Ontario painters dedicated to painting the Canadian landscape from life. When asked which artists influence his work he is quick to name them: “Homer, Whistler and of course Sargent”.
Zan Teaches watercolours at two visual art schools in Ontario Canada. He also makes his own brushes and paints. “You have to know your tools intimately. That is why I make them. But of course, I also use professionally made brushes and colours. I appreciate the mastery and the craftsmanship even more because I can tell what goes into making high quality tools”.