* All images used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.
Jim Zwadlo grew up on a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin helping his family feed about 50 cows. He started his undergraduate degree at UW-Madison, and finished at SUNY-Potsdam, in upstate New York, with a BFA in Fine Arts.
Jim explains his work by saying, “My subject is people represented realistically in an abstract urban space, as seen from an imaginary aerial point of view. I title the series of paintings “Pedestrians” to make it clear that the point of view is the point of the painting; the people are not doing anything special, just walking in the street.
I lived for many years in New York City, working in office buildings, thinking about how to orient myself. From the aerial point of view, to me, the Manhattan landscape became, literally, a map of itself. The urban space flattened visually into a kind of “found” painting. Being a native Midwesterner, I translated my sense of the flatness of the Midwestern landscape into a solution to how to paint the verticality of the urban landscape.
I use photographs as a way to reconstruct images from the real world and transfer them to the real painting. For me, photography functions as a catalyst, as in a chemical reaction: photographs are instrumental to making the painting, but they do not appear in the completed painting. I refer to Impressionist cityscapes, Bauhaus photography, New York School abstraction, and Minimalism as some important influences For me, the urban pedestrian symbolizes a complex social milieu. I paint each figure as a detailed individual portrait, familiar yet anonymous. I construct the crowd from thousands of photographs, arranged randomly to suggest patterns, and in patterns that suggest randomness.”