A great many artists have keen insight into the subconscious as well as a unique perspective of the world in which they live. Chet Zar is just such an artist. The documentary Chet Zar: I Like to Paint Monsters presents a glimpse into the personal life and art work of this talented and influential master of so-called “dark art.” Over the years, Zar has used his creativity not only to express himself but also as a means of commenting on various aspects of modern society.
From a young age, Chet Zar began doing make up, prosthetics, and other art department work within the film industry. His big screen credits include movies such as The Ring (2002), Darkman (1990), and Planet of the Apes (2001). As a key member of the Dark Art Movement, Zar has made a name for himself by creating paintings with titles such as “Black Magick,” “Shamanic Tendencies,” and “Blockhead.”
Directed by Mike Correll, I Like to Paint Monsters delves into the life of Chet Zar including his years growing up in San Pedro, California, the flow and flux of his family relationships, his artistic inspirations, cinema work, and his decision to concentrate on his fine art painting career. The documentary presents viewers with a wide range of interviews with a variety of Zar’s friends, work colleagues, art critics, collectors, and fans. For those unfamiliar with the artist’s work, I Like To Paint Monsters presents plenty of background info and context as to the important contributions Zar has made in terms of his painting, cinematic, and computer animation work. The film also highlights the way in which this complex and highly respected artist has influenced the tattoo community.
I Like to Paint Monsters not only provides a showcase for Zar’s work but also delves into the motivations and inspirations behind them. The film’s director weaves in stories from the artist’s past in order to illuminate Zar’s fascination with nightmares, the supernatural, and the horror genre. The documentary effectively delves into the roots of Zar’s artistic career when, as a child, he began dealing with his fears by putting them down on paper. In a particularly telling interview with the artist, Zar refers to the way in which he uses his art to capture nightmares and how in turn the monsters at the centre of his work have served to make him whole.
Interestingly, I Like to Paint Monsters was financed by several Kickstarter campaigns which seems to be a reflection not only of Zar’s outsider status but also of his fiercely loyal fanbase. Despite the gruesome and disturbing nature of Chet Zar’s work, the documentary reveals him to be a warm, funny, and hardworking individual with a profound love of animals and a deep concern for the environment. Perhaps Zar’s wife sums him up best when she refers to the way in which, as a child, Zar looked “both calm and creepy at the same time.”
Chet Zar: I Like to Paint Monsters is an entertaining and well-made documentary which will no doubt expose the artist and his work to art lovers previously unfamiliar with his work. The film also successfully provides Zar’s legions of fans with a thought-provoking and entertaining homage to the man and his work. The DVD also includes a number of extra features including extended interviews, deleted scenes, and a gallery of the artist’s work.
Chet Zar: I Like to Paint Monsters is out on DVD.