San Francisco-based artist George Pfau is more obsessed with zombies than you are. He is so enamored with them, that they are his muse for Impressionist paintings. What lily gardens were to Monet, iconic undead apocalypse scenes are to Pfau in a series titled "Zombiescapes."
Zombies intrigue Pfau because they represent pressing questions of identity, questions that Pfau thinks are universal for us as social beings in a western nation. Our culture places heavy emphasis on identity—on developing an identity, on making ourselves unique, on never being a poser. Because we place so much stock in identity, things we see as infringing on it or destroying it cause us great anxiety.
Zombies speak to this anxiety. They are the undead. They used to be people, and their physical appearances remain intact (with some minor adjustments) even though the person who once existed within the flesh is gone. Zombies also represent a threat to those who still have identities—one unlucky interaction with a zombie, and you could find yourself missing appendages you once considered an important part of your self-conception, if you’re fortunate enough to survive the experience at all.
“I’d like to think that the zombie-obsession has to do with the accessibility of these ideas, and how they relate to the vulnerability of being human beings, constantly on the verge of being seen (or not), seemingly secure in our bodies yet always a blink away from death,” he told Co.Exist.
Pfau selected the Impressionist style of painting for two reasons: nostalgia and its expressive value. Pfau’s father had a passion for Impressionism and Pointillism, Alfred Sisley in particular, and Pfau grew up admiring and studying these paintings. Pfau's oil paints ooze into the background scenes, just as zombies do. The brush stroke technique that creates the hazy quality is only partially controlled by the painter, and takes on a life of its own, allowing the zombies to melt into the setting.
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