September 12th, 2018

Jesse Gussow


The artwork by Erol Zendis is akin to a Magic Eye piece from the 1990s mashed up with a Where’s Waldo. His pieces pull you in with how busy they are and keep you looking at them for hours examining all the different characters that make up the piece. His attention to details is phenomenal! His work is reminiscent of a bored student doodling on the side of a paper, only Erol has filled up the whole page and it’s absolutely fantastic! 




Where are you from?

I come from a land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder.




How did you get interested in art?

Reoccurring dreams. At the age of six, El Gato Félix appeared to me in Dalíesque dream… Like Virgil, he guided me through Hieronymus Bosch’s version of Hell. He told me I that I needed to release the Zendians from their prison. Ten years later, I had the same dream except this time Félix was wearing a Slayer T-shirt.




What inspires your work? 

The desire to release the Zendians from their prison of non-existence… They are trapped in Zendian-Grømblegefängnis and I must liberate them.




How would you describe your style? 

Cartoon-infused surrealism in big doodle form.




What does your work say about you? 

An artist I respect recently described my work as ‘generating its own energy’, ‘unique’, ‘powerful’, ‘funny’, and ‘scary’… So, I’ll go with all of those but I’d also add handsome (for the ‘about me’ part).




What is your preferred medium to work with? 

A black pen of some description and paper. Preferably a good pen and good paper.




How have you grown as an artist? 

It is like collecting Pokémon; each creation is like a new ‘catch’, sometimes it’s something useless like a Weedle but that Weedle can evolve into something a bit better and every now and then the creation is more like a level 77 Gengar or a level 89 Rhydon, occasionally even a Charizard. I’m fairly new to the art world… I’d say in Pokémon terms, I’ve got approximately 18 Pokémon and I’ve just beaten the first gym leader. My journey has just started… but my plan is to be the very best…like no one ever was.




What is your process for completing a piece from start to finish?

It usually begins with me drawing something on a piece of paper, then unfortunately, (predominantly due to my obligations in the real world) it stays like that for a while… Whilst the process is very ‘automatic’, it is also sporadic because time is always the main issue, so I just incrementally add to drawings whenever I can.

Time... I need more time… I need a time transplant.  




Do you know exactly what you’re going to make or do you change, add or subtract things while you are working on it?

This is a difficult question to answer, as it is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. That being said, I try to keep the work as ‘automatic’ as possible.

André Breton defined surrealism as “pure psychic automatism". Even though Automatism was developed as a means of expressing the subconscious, my work (like most surrealism) is not about accidental mark making where the hand moves 'randomly' across the paper. Even though my doodles are largely freed of rational thought (i.e. I don’t really overthink it), there is an obvious aesthetic to it… If I’m drawing a 90’s cartoon inspired psychotic walrus with hairy nipples, then my end product is going to look like a psychotic cartoon walrus with hairy nipples.

It also depends on the specific piece. For example, I’m currently working with a few bands. If they would like a human skull with the brain still inside, with flamingos eating the brains… Then that is what they will get (albeit with an Erol Zendis touch).




Do you only work on one piece at a time? 

I try to, but time, wherever I’m located and the size of certain pieces means that I usually work on a few different pieces whenever possible. As a result, I’ll usually work on two or three things at once.




What do you teach?

I’d rather not say because ‘Erol Zendis’ is not my real name…

I don’t really want parents calling the school asking: ‘why do you employ a teacher that draws psychotic cartoon walruses with hairy nipples?’




How has teaching impacted your artwork?

Negatively. I like my workplace and my job but it is time consuming and as mentioned above… I need more time.




What are your hopes for the future?

It might sound narcissistic but I’d simply like to open a book in a few years’ time and see some Erol Zendis artwork.

I recall flipping through a Surrealism book and of course, all the usual names were in there, Dalí, Ernst, Magritte etc. Then I noticed a piece by Conroy Maddox, I was not familiar with the artist or the artwork but I was intrigued. What was this sharply dressed bovine-human hybrid doing and why was it sitting next to a well-dressed trash can-human hybrid (I think it’s a trash can)? What was their story? Then you look at the other characters in the piece and again, you think… What is their story? This is not a well-known piece but it’s awesome.

That’s all I want… Someone’s imagination to be ignited by my work akin to the manner in which my mind was captivated by the weird cow thing. Except sharply dressed bovine-human hybrid, will probably be replaced with something like pterodactyl-merman with hairy nipples and sock puppets.



Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies? 

Sorry but I cannot provide you with an educated response to this question.

I don’t know what a Fudgee-O cookie is…. Sorry. Please feel free to send me some ;)

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