About the Artist
Jamie BenAziz-Zacharatos, has worked as a freelance artist for over 30 years, and is from southern California, but you could say she leads a double life, and these two lives come together in a unique way. Jamie is also a third degree blackbelt, and has another company with her professional kickboxing champion husband, teaching Karate, Kickboxing, and Martial Arts Weapons. https://www.zacharatos.com She is also a partner in her family real estate investment company.
Her life as an athlete, business owner, and mother, has had a great influence on her work as an artist, inspiring her to create many sports themed paintings, which she calls ‘explosive control art’. Because these aspects of her life of sports and art often overlap, it enables her to strike a unique balance creatively, physically, and mentally.
She has expressed her art over the years in many different ways from creating many series of fine art paintings and prints in two distinct styles, as well as working as creating a line of greeting cards, an art to wear clothing line with her designs silkscreened on them that sold to major department stores. She also designed logos and corporate identities, interior decorating, and written stories. She wrote/produced/directed two television commercials for her martial arts/sports company, “Zacharatos Karate, Kickboxing/MMA and Soccer“.
Over the years with the advent of photoshop, she began to incorporate photoshop into her art, both in combination with fine art, and in designs created exclusively on the computer with photographs and images, including the creation of two websites–this art website, and a website for her martial arts company, and adding her artistic aesthetic to other social media, such as 3 Instagram accounts and their YouTube Channel.
The arts and athletics have an unlikely thing in common, they are both also a great way to escape and get lost, and brings people together with a common interest, something Jamie needed when enduring one hardship and disaster after another. For many years while building her martial arts company, their various business locations and possessions, including her original artwork, were destroyed by fire. Then only a year later, another location was destroyed again by earthquake, but Jamie kept rebuilding, no matter what challenge was thrown at her–(see “about us” in the zacharatos.com website for more)
Many times, while getting lost in one’s art, for whatever reason, beauty is often created, and it heals the soul, and you are renewed. When life is inconsistent and testing you to your limits, sports, art, and family, have been a constant in Jamie’s life. Where in her art, she is creating something from nothing, imagining it, and then producing it, it is indeed magic.
ABOUT THE ART
Jamie’s two distinct styles uniquely combine an abstract painterly style, with strong graphic design elements, the fine art meets graphic design.
The many subject matters of her paintings usually mirror other areas of her life. Teaching martial arts, playing tennis, target shooting, piloting airplanes and teaching dance as a teenager, riding horses as a child, and best of all, becoming a mom, inspired her many series of paintings which include, kickboxers, olympic athletics, weapons, dancers, horses, and carnivals.
For her fine art, she has created two distinct styles, the Abstract series and the Greco series.
The “abstract series” is a painterly style, and a combination of silk screening and hand painting, where from a distance the paintings look like mere abstract shapes, yet upon closer viewing, the subject matter becomes clear.
“Greco Series” specializes in graphic silhouettes of mostly athletic figures of different sports with geometric shapes. These silhouettes are fit together like pieces of a puzzle to form compelling images. She first creates them by hand with black ink on white, and then enhances them with gradients in photoshop for a very dramatic effect especially when grouped together.
“ART SPEAK” WHAT IS ART ANYWAYS
If everything is art, then nothing is art . . .
“For art to be considered good or have value, does it always have to make some political statement, be explained, or make you think?” (Jamie)
I once took a class many years back to see what other local artists in California were doing. I was the only actual artist in this small class. Needless to say, I wasn’t very popular, here’s why. We went to an exhibit, and I looked over at the wall, and saw an old tarp cloth draped in a pile near the wall, and I said, “oh what a shame we had to come while the room was under repair”. Oops, my bad, that was the exhibit. Is it just me, I don’t get it, wouldn’t you think the same thing if you saw that?, would you want that hanging in your living room?
Then I overheard the teacher describing a picture on exhibit using phrases such as, it evokes a quiet calm, then I made the mistake of looking at the picture she was speaking about. What I saw was literally an enlarged piece of graph paper, you know, the kind with the pale blue grid on a white background you used in math class. Of course this particular piece of graph paper was very expensive, and was considered “fine art”.
I remember years ago, my mom, who before becoming a businesswoman was also a fine artist and sculptor, couldn’t believe an exhibit she saw in a museum of brown paper bags displayed all in a row. I think some of the bags may have been spray painted gold (oh maybe that makes it “fine art”). She even wrote a letter to the newspaper that they published, in disbelief that this is what is now considered art. We still laugh about it today.
Are people being convinced by art curators, teachers, and critics that everything is art. What happened to just having something on a wall in your home, your sanctuary, that’s beautiful and dramatic, reflects subjects you like, and makes you feel good. For art to be considered good or have value, does it always have to make some political statement, be explained, or make you think? Think at work, but when you’re at home, relax with cool art, hopefully my cool art!
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for these “avant guard” styles of art, like enlarged graph paper, (OK I’m being kind), but just not to the exclusion of real art, and I hope that those who favor the avant guard would not to be so elitist about it, because collectors of fine art masters etc, is out of reach for most people.
When I would display my art work at our karate studio, sort of the fine arts meeting the martial arts, it exposed art to many of those who wouldn’t necessarily go to a museum or art openings, and I displayed pictures of interest to them–my fighters and weapons series, and many new people who hadn’t thought about it before, realized they actually liked art, and could relate to it. Bringing relatable art to a new audience is a good thing.
I’m sure I’m not making too many friends with those who count in the art world, but all that other stuff is just not me. Any type of artist must be true to themselves, take a stand, and stand by it, and I just want to create and design, not worry about trends, or be exclusively consumed by the “business” of art, and take it too seriously, and most of all, have a sense of humor about it.
In my “official” artist statement below, while the content is all true, it is my attempt at describing my art in the language of “art speak” something I think to be considered a “true” artist by some people is required. I tried to make sense while using big words, it’s actually pretty good!
“OFFICIAL” ARTIST STATEMENT
“EXPLOSIVE CONTROL ART”
Everything I paint is an expression of my feelings of the paradox that exits within me–a wild free spirit that desires no limitations, inextricably combined with my need for order and containment. As an example, my own life is filled with art on the one hand, and martial arts on the other. The result is an explosive order, and energetic calm, an organized disorder. . . Explosive Control Art. (pretty cool so far, huh?)
This paradox is best embodied by the various subject matters in my work. The feeling of the dancers’ and fighters’ need for total abandon, defined by strict discipline, comes naturally to me. The running of powerful wild horses appears free spirited, yet is informed by steady fluid repetitions. The carnivals with their connotation of gypsy freedom, are nevertheless underpinned by mechanical limitations . The weapons–swords, daggers, bullets, guns, with their potential of havoc and destruction, appear ironically to convey a sense of serenity as their abstract shapes suggest anything from musical instruments to floral bouquets. (how do I come up with this stuff!)
Things in life are rarely what they seem to be. . . and from a distance my paintings appear to be mere abstract shapes. Yet upon closer viewing, the subject matter becomes clear. As my kickboxing series depicts, that out of what looks likes flames, the silhouettes of fighters in combat emerge. Not only the subject matter and its presentation, but also the very medium I developed expresses the paradox. In my abstract series, I combine silkscreening with hand painting, on fabric or paper, executed with water media. One silkscreen generally renders one precise image, yet I use each silkscreen as a free hand paint brush combined with actual paint brushes, to create original, one of a kind paintings.
(the big finish): As a self taught artist, I evolved original styles of painting to express the contradictions within myself as I aspire to strike a balance between freedom and structure.