A Night At Zaide’s Solo Show

Words: Faith Thurnwald
Photos: Matt Officen
Event: A2Z
I start the night late, and in a rush. The theme is: dress as your sexiest self. So I must look like an educated – aspiring – slut: leather pants, and ‘cunt’ earrings it is. Heels I can hardly walk in and I’m out the door, trying not to slip on my steps.


I’m rushing to get to another A2Z event, and a special one indeed. It’s Zaide’s first solo show.

You might recognise the name. I’ve rambled and raved about his work before and to paraphrase myself; Zaide’s signature style is oil on canvas, wherein he weaves bodies and objects alike into a heavy and heavenly solitary sensuality. It’s an inviting world of motion: a delayed lava lamp of movement that seems to never end – like the time you tried acid. Whether Zaide chooses to paint portraits or a bouquet of banksias; his pallet knife cuts are both light as a feather and heavy as hell. It’s a contradictory concept and he paints with polarity, playing with us and experimenting with subject matters.


His show consists of thirty five (large) pieces of work, they’re stretched on canvas and wet; weighed down with oil.


I scan the room as people pose with their portraits. Their likeness leaks from the canvas and onto their social media stories. Zaide’s portrait series includes relatives, and randoms alike. The standouts are the subjects he knows best, my personal favourite: his mum. Peering over her specs, she looks pensively to the side; titled ‘the second half’, this piece reflects on the past, but doesn’t dwell in it. It’s a refreshing embrace of what’s been, and what’s to come; reminding us it’s a privilege to age. But of course these are the doors of perception and art is in the eye of the beholder, so the question remains, what does she see behind her specs?


As subjective as the finished pieces evidently are there’s one objective truth: when Zaide’s paint leaves the pallet, a little bit of magic happens. Through spoken word accompanied by some smooth jazz, he drops us an eloquent line on his creative process, and it goes a little like this:

Beginning the birth of creation;

Smearing, wiping, warping;

No bad mark making, mishaps leading to elation;

Imagined worlds, scenarios manifesting;

Cutting shapes & molding representation

Amongst frantic schedules, a moment with subjects;

Disregarding preconceived narrative & notion;

Turmoil presented as a fractured image;

Writhing, wriggling peculiar Imagination

Cardboard cities, magazine cutouts shifting;

Blotting out canvas with colour co-ordination

Impasto gliding along a knifes edge;

Angling lines, a tattered imitation;

Swirling compositions lead my vision;

Culminating in scenes of fascination.

A2Z’s other half Aleja Hine introduces Zaide; describing the exhibition as prolific, stemming from a place of passion and dedication (a combination our last relationship decidedly lacked).


Zaide thanks all the ‘beautiful faces, from all walks of life’ that show up in support of his event, and that’s what the night is all about. His sitters steal the show, as Zaide’s take on identity is enriched by the people he surrounds himself with. When sitting Zaide asked his subjects (or sitters if you find the term a little less feudal) three questions: what’s your favourite colour, what’s your favourite body of water, and what’s your favourite animal. In an almost intrusively psychoanalytic manner Zaide uses these small prompts to glean some insight into the true you.


This is how he paints your portrait. They’re the people he loves most, and who he holds the dearest – which baffles me as I don’t seem to have one?


The night is interrupted by a loud slurring as Valentino Koch pushes his way through the crowd. He sweats profusely through his absurdly sized fur coat as he demands, ‘WHERE IS THE ARTIST’, Zaide makes his presence known as Valentino continues his frenzied cries of; ’THIS MUST BE MINE’. Valentino swings around and grabs onto Zaide, in the words of so many college boys that came before him – Valentino says, ‘I’m not taking no for an answer’, to which Zaide uncomfortably concedes, catching the cash.

The transaction is complete and with it the night is wrapping up, like paintings packed to their lucky buyers. I’m not lucky, and strike out again with a man that ends things with me. But there’s always another package to unwrap and if there’s more fish in the sea, I’m a shark.