Multimedia artist George Pfau has long been obsessed with zombies, and has allowed their lore to influence much of his work. An inventive, versatile artist, Pfau has examined the role of zombies in our culture using multiple mediums to recreate the terror and intrigue they inspire. As journalist Annalee Newitz explains, “If you think the zombie trope is exhausted, Pfau’s art will reawaken your fascination with this monstrous figure who has become so central to the way we imagine ourselves in the early twenty-first century.”
One of Pfau’s projects, “Zombies Identified,” utilizes mixed media, drawings, and also features an elaborate sculpture made from wood, acrylic, metal, snakeskin, cardboard and fabric. Another, called “Zombie Index,” is a massive, collage-like drawing of the undead; it’s accompanied by a list of thousands of names that serve as an “index” of the humans that have “turned”. Pfau’s latest work is vastly different from his earlier projects. It’s titled “Zombiescapes,” and it examines and challenges the ways in which zombies inform their surroundings – and vice versa – in iconic films and on television.
“Zombiescapes” is a series of impressionistic, pointillist oil paintings that depict scenes from zombie movies and television shows like Night of the Living Dead and The Walking Dead. Pfau chose to work with oil paint because of the way it allows each figure to literally blend and “ooze into its surroundings.” He also describes the “Loss of control that occurs with each brushstroke” as being what creates such fluid movements within each painting. In “Zombiescapes,” you’ll find beautifully painted recreations of scenes from Dawn of the Dead, The Omega Man, Zombieland, 28 Days Later, Otto, Day of the Dead, and many more.
One of the most compelling facets of Pfau’s latest work is his technique of letting the zombies subtly blend into their surroundings. It indicates a deeper, perhaps inherent relationship between zombies and humans, as well as zombies and humans together in their connection to the space around them. If you didn’t know that you were looking at a painted rendering of iconic zombie still shots, you may not be able to identify the figures as undead, but merely abstractly depicted humans interacting with their surroundings in myriad ways.
It’s a depiction of zombies that is decidedly uncommon. Typically, zombies are depicted in all of their bloodthirsty, visceral glory. In “Zombiescapes,” their intent is muddled; it’s more abstract and unassuming, and in some instances, even unidentifiable. This collection of paintings is indicative of the ways in which the artist’s relationship with zombies has evolved over time. Whereas “Zombie Index” portrayed the undead in a gory, frantic manner, ‘Zombiescapes” humanizes the zombies in a way that is equally terrifying.
Visit George Pfau’s website to see his many renderings of zombies, as well as other recent works.
*All images used with permission from the artist.