(TOP) A rooftop near the Chinese Theatre /Hollywood.
(BOTTOM) Salton Sea /CA
I recently sat in the audience for the premiere of French visual artist Loic Zimmermann’s documentary, “Gamma Wray-The Painter’s Journey”. For forty or so minutes, I wrestled to keep myself still. The excitement of going behind the curtain, where process and workflow are traditionally guarded trade secrets separating master and apprentice, was too much to bear. Seatbelt fastened.
If you are unfamiliar with Southern California artist William Wray, that’s about to change and Loic Zimmerman is leading the charge. Notable for his work as a cartoonist and landscape painter, Zimmermann’s recent documentary strips back the layers to reveal in William Wray, a modern impressionist pushing the physical boundaries of both material and canvas. Zimmermann’s lens takes the already electrically charged work of this modern master and exposes Wray as a man on a noble mission. The journey spans the wastelands of the California desert and almost forgotten region of the Salton Sea, the confines of inner-city buildings and even reveals the defeated faces littering Hollywood Boulevard.
The film’s soundtrack is quirky but keeps the action moving forward. It’s the perfect fusion of slightly sun stroked and drunken love we’re all looking for. The ride starts with the strong, thumping bass of Swell’s “The Trip” and carries through to the end with an elegant selection of orchestral wonder by Alex Horn.
For Zimmermann, the challenge of capturing this rogue ship of creativity was no easy task. Filmed over a year, “Gamma Wray” goes deep and strikes hard where it needs to. You get an unabridged version of what it takes to put brush to canvas. For Wray, the subject matter seems to stem from a humanistic urge to capture the tired, lived in bodies of his subjects. Whether those subjects are beat up superheroes, slightly overweight fairy godmothers, or found objects, Wray is capable of capturing the reality of their place in our world while bringing glory to the forgotten.
As a visual artist, Loic Zimmermann is no stranger to making pretty pictures of his own. This innate understanding of what it takes to bring a piece to life, transcends and allows him to navigate his way into the role of documentarian in an almost seamless fashion. The fit and finish of this latest project is not surprising. After all, he’s got the inside line on what it takes to make it look good. Making it look good and telling the story of a truly extraordinary contemporary master is no easy task. Zimmermann presents William Wray as he is, sun drenched and bleeding.