Elle Zoltak from Compendium Gallery first came across Zac Chester’s art on Instagram last year.
“His paintings made me smile,” Zoltak told The AJN, something everyone needed during Melbourne’s epic 2021 lockdown. Zoltak was so inspired by the artist’s work she knew she wanted to showcase his talents in the gallery.
“When we were curating our 2022 calendar, I knew we needed to invite Zac for a solo show.”
Chester lives with Down Syndrome, and was one of the first Jewish students with an intellectual disability to be integrated into a Jewish school in Melbourne, attending Leibler Yavneh College. In fact, it has been said on several occasions that Chester “brought disability into the community”.
According to his family, from a young age, he was determined to follow in the footsteps of his siblings, attending Bnei Akiva, being part of the Shevet Yuval program and after completing school, heading to Israel on Taglit Birthright.
A born artist in all senses of the words, Chester’s family joke that the was “born to perform” – he is often seen on stage, singing, dancing and acting.
But it’s his art studio that is his happy place, where he spends hours at his desk, listening to music, surrounded by his paints.
His specialty is brightness.
“Zac’s favourite thing about painting is that it creates a sense of joy and happiness,” his mum Sandra wrote to The AJN.
Art Therapist/Art mentor Shoshi Jacobs said, “It helps him be in the moment, stay present and see a whole world in front of him unfold. He paints intuitively which means he never truly knows what is going to appear or what will emerge, but we know that with Zac, the colours are always bright and the energy is always vibrant.”
This is abundantly clear as you scroll through Chester’s Instagram and through his exhibition at Compendium Gallery.
“[Zac’s exhibition] Rainbow Portal is about being free and choosing to step into a better-feeling place,” Shoshi said.
“Each piece is woven with a piece of Zac’s heart, and he hopes that whoever sees his works through this exhibition will get to experience the joy and colour that extends beyond his canvases.”
For Zoltak, it’s Chester’s vibrancy that speaks to her. “I love Zac’s confidence with colour and his ability to paint with no inhibitions,” she said.
“We are thrilled and incredibly proud to be exhibiting Zac Chester.”
Rainbow Portal will be on exhibition from July 21 – August 6, at Compendium Gallery 909 High Street, Armadale.