Zach Reini on Where the Hell Is Babylon, Opening Friday at Gildar Gallery

Growing up in Denver, Zach Reini liked to draw and got into punk, playing in such noteworthy local hardcore bands as Crawl, Dethbox and, currently, Civilized. His wide-ranging imagination also led him to explore experimental electronic music with his Data Rainbow project. But Reini never gave up on the visual arts, and he was in one of the last graduating classes at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design before the school moved to more online courses and less studio time in 2012. Completing his degree in fine arts with a focus in painting, Reini worked as an art mover and in galleries before becoming a full-time artist last year. His work has been exhibited at NADA in New York, Stems Gallery in Brussels and LVL3 in Chicago; in early 2016 he'll have an exhibit in Milan, Italy. Reini will unveil his latest exhibit at Gildar Gallery on Friday, November 13. Titled Where the Hell Is Babylon, the multimedia exhibit comprises paintings, sculpture, installations, video and a performance element. In advance of that opening, we recently sat down with Reini at his art studio/performance space Leisure to discuss the new show.

Why did you call the exhibit Where the Hell Is Babylon, and what are your aims with this exhibit?

Zach Reini: Where the Hell Is Babylon is a reference to a Cockney Rejects song. It's about how people perceive symbols and utopia. You subvert the system so much and the subverters become the ones in power and the cycle starts again. Symbols are always in this constant cycle of consumption, digestion and regurgitation, so that you can pick at them from wherever you want and use them to your advantage. Hopefully people are thrown off by the show a little bit because their expectations of what is to be shown is a little bit different. I will also employ a performative aspect of the show [which won't be revealed until the exhibition opens to preserve an element of surprise]. And the exhibition itself is subject to change.... I want to change it from being a stagnant thing to being more of a happening that's alive and changes over time.

There is 2-D work and a sculptural aspect to the show, installation, and I'm working on an animation for the exhibit as well. I didn't want it to just be hanging paintings on the wall and that's it. We're trying to mess with different hanging style. I'm using all the cards I got. If I can make my mom cry, I probably did a good job.

Is there a particular subculture you're drawing on for those cultural references and symbols?

It's definitely specific to me, so it's more an American culture. There are a lot of '90s references. There are punk references, too. I'm trying to make it so you don't have to be an expert on it but if you recognize it, that's all you need. The references range from punk stuff to stoner culture and doodles and advertising. And I do try to focus on subculture in contrast to popular culture.

The opening reception for Where the Hell Is Babylon runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, November 13, at Gildar Gallery, 82 South Broadway; the exhibit runs through December 19, with the performance aspect changing at various points. For more information,visit the Gildar Gallery website
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.