The arty interview: Billy Zane

Widely known for his acting career, Billy Zane began painting during his seven months of filming Titanic, using only locally sourced materials to explore abstract painting. Now, he sets up an art studio in each location he films. He is having his first UK solo exhibition at the Rook and Raven Gallery, London, from 11th October to 7th November. 

What do you paint?
I paint things that need it.

Why do you paint? 
This question reminds me of The Seminole film about Ballet, The Red Shoes, and the scene in particular where the prima Ballerina is asked "Why do you dance?". She responds, without hesitation, "Why do you live?" "Because I must," her inquisitor and mentor replies. The Ballerina's knowing smile says the rest.

Well... That's not why I paint. I wish it was. 

I just like it.

How do you work?
Outdoors. Fast. Decisively.

Why is being an artist important to you? It's sexy. It's a lifestyle and aesthetic that always measured up in my book. This drew me to the visual arts. Upon discovering that my work met my own high self critical standards, I was very relieved. My paint-plastered boots and unfinished canvases by the bed suddenly had purpose beyond romantic art direction.

What is your greatest inspiration?

Who is your favourite artist? 
Although I know very little about his life, process and point of view, and we have completely dissimilar styles, I must say it's Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Just now, Upon Googling him to see if there was in fact an 'e' in Auguste, I discovered we nearly share a birthday in February by mere hours. 

The reason I selected him is that Luncheon Of The Boating Party is my favorite reminder of the quality of life to which I most aspire. My favourite artist achieved a rendering of what I consider to be the highest art of living.

What kinds art do you best identify with? 
Abstract expressionism. Action painting.

What is an artistic outlook on life? 
I could define it as a unique way of seeing, literally. A "look" as an outlook. From there, patterns will emerge, a theory can take root, based on the evidence of life one gathers within shadow, reflection, silhouette, oft times lost on most folks. Curiously I find an artistic outlook somewhat resembles a scientific one

What artists have you been compared to? 
Alberto Burri.

What is your goal? 
To leverage this dubious and fleeting currency called 'celebrity' more effectively by enabling meaningful efforts to end hunger, and enhance clean water initiatives, so I may continue to engage in the privileged graces that are painting, cooking and playing with my children, with a yet even greater sense of satisfaction.


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