Paul Zacharias


Paul Zacharias, Toppled Monument, plaster, plants.

Zacharias’s Toppled Monument is a literal interpretation of the Hollywood, white supremacist ideology of the aggrandized and sometimes deified cowboy.  As a boy, he grew up with the saturated, celluloid image of the cowboy unilaterally going through ‘the west’ using the troupe of the ‘white saviour’ to make the uncontrollable brown swaths of folks fall into line or endearing the notion of embedded criminality that has to be stomped out by the rule-abiding cowboy and all that he signifies.  Making women submit to the strong, wise, powerful man that can ensure protection from the unknown ‘darkness’ her submission is the complicity of protecting her cowboy.  His harkening of the plundering done in the name of righteous ownership is reflected in the gleaming gold wrapping of the work.

The broken cowboy is Zacharias’s comment about skewering the image of white perfection that dominates the visual landscape.  His disruption is the violent detritus of the remains of the people’s response to this idea of the current mainstream.  Wanting to pay homage to the sociopolitical protests that punctuated the global pandemic, the global gaze set on protesters from Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and the womyn’s marches.  These responses to what has been unjustly the norm and what folks will scream are the ‘good ole days’; Toppled Monument leaves the viewer wondering what is left of those ‘good ole days.’

Paul Zacharias received his BFA at the University of Manitoba in 1999. He has exhibited his work across Canada and internationally. He has worked for 20 years in film as a Scenic Artist on more than fifty films working in Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan. From 2014 to 2019 Zacharias was owner and director of LANTERN, a successful contemporary art gallery in Winnipeg. In 2019 he closed the gallery to focus solely on his art practice.

“While I was directing LANTERN we ran across clients who desired large, macho, expensive looking artworks. The smart subtle prairie artists we carried were too quiet for them. They want- ed big price tags and exotic international validation. As a commercial gallery owner one can’t help but think about wealth; what it wants, where it might be heading and where it came from. As time went by a reactionary series of works formed in my head. It began with the desire to create art that checks all those boxes. I even toyed with the idea of creating a fake artistic identity and a body of work to sell to these guys. Ethical issues and time constraints kept that idea in dreamland. In the end I closed the gallery but the fake artist haunted me, and I set about making these works in earnest.”

Zacharias’s most recent artworks are about desire, violence, wealth, machismo, and challenging colonial historical narratives.

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The artist acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts

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