Over the last year and a half Juno Zago’s artwork has developed to reflect his growing abilities as a painter but continue to reference elements that have become more or less key to his work. Using new and recycled canvas, oils and acrylics, scissors and paintbrushes, magazines and newspapers Zago is decidedly interested in interplay and complexity but does not shy from achieving (or attempting to achieve) these things with simple and straightforward results. More often than not these images take on the form of portraits, some of the artist some of his friends but Zago is also comfortable stretching his output to include more minimalist or abstract works of art.
In today’s 2017, 2016 is remembered as a literal elephant in the room. And whilst countless artists retort and bleed for their audiences amidst America’s present landscape by creating socially aware and politically charged works of art, Zago is dealing with another series of emotionally taxing experiences. Instead of allowing the fascist hubbub to infiltrate his work, Zago’s been inspired by the suicide of recent Ramapo graduate and friend, Jason Mejia, that took place June 3rd of 2016 and the Pulse Shooting in Orlando which took place roughly a week later, June 12th.
His most recent artworks therefore focus almost exclusively on color and material choice. Zago’s approach is to use watercolors, colored pencils, and chalk pastels to lay out color juxtapositions that hopefully end in organic shapes that please his and his viewers’ eyes. Zago considers these experiments both a natural evolution from the expressive use of color employed in his portraits as well as a departure from his previous figurative imagery and the angular confines of the square motif prevalent in most of his work throughout 2016.
Born in Brazil, João (Juno) Zago moved to the United States with his parents at the age of eleven first settling in Newark, NJ where he attended and graduated Arts High School in 2012. Zago’s desire to pursue art professionally, coupled with prior art school rearing helped him operate through valuable volunteer and internship opportunities with the Montclair Art Museum, Gallery Aferro, and Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art as well. His artworks pull from a variety of historical and contemporary references, most recently dealing with portraiture, the color gold, and religious iconography.
Zago currently lives in Kearny, NJ and received his BA in Visual Arts with concentrations in Drawing and Painting, and Art History from Ramapo College of New Jersey in 2016. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in Newark, NJ, Mahwah, NJ, and Beacon, NY.