Inspired by the Gods, Fire Artist Zachary Aronson Dazzles with His Vision of Olympians

For those who believe art is boring, they haven’t been treated to the work of Zachary Aronson, the only artist in the world who paints using a flamethrower and blow torches. Zachary, who has been fascinated with faces and drawing since he was barely old enough to walk, has evolved over the years from working with metal, to carving sculptures out of marble, to now creating breathtaking portraits burned into hardwoods. His work is growing in popularity as the curious flock to his gallery showings and to his live events, where he shows an amazing dexterity as he paints the portraits of his models and even the eyes of party attendees. We met up with Zachary in his studio to reminisce with him on some of his favorite memories from the journey he’s taken as an artist ever since he graduated from the renown CalArts with dual master’s degrees in art and theater design. We found a deeply thoughtful man who enjoys getting to know people in general and who possesses an uncanny ability to make you feel comfortable even as he is looking into the depths of your soul.

Zachary confesses that while art has always been his passion, Greek mythology intrigues him, also. “I was especially interested in it right after I got out of grad school back in 2014. I was into a lot of classical mythology and decided to use it to create a show for the Moskowitz Bayse Gallery in LA,” he remembers. “I had an idea that I would create twelve pieces for my show, each one representing an Olympian. The twist, though, is that each would be a hybrid and would include both a face and a body. They were going to be portrait and figurative pieces. The smallest ended up being around 6×2 feet, and the major gods were all roughly 6×5 feet. It was a big undertaking, and I really threw myself into it.”

Zachary’s vision was bold: the show would be an array of deconstructed portraits and building towers, which would begin at 7 feet tall and gradually heighten until they reached 20 feet tall in the middle of the gallery. “The twentieth was going to be the hand of Zeus,” Zachary explains. “Then there would be double-sided towers that spiraled through. Attendees would have to go through the spiral to get to the center of the show. It was going to be amazing, and I couldn’t wait to get started. I thrive when I have a lot of space to work with.”

Convinced of his vision, Zachary worked for weeks to create the pieces, laboring long into the night. “I barely noticed the time pass by because I was so into it,” he says. “That often happens when I work – my hands just take over, and the minutes race by.”

At the gallery, Zachary burned all of the floors. “I wanted to make the point that my art is not just about wall pieces that are viewed from a few feet away. Instead, it could be immersive and give attendees a completely different experience, one they would never forget.”

The installation was a big success. People walked through it, examining the floor and lingering over the towers, impressed by the workmanship and creativity. “In the second half, the pieces were deconstructed and hung on walls, similar to portraits in someone’s home,” Zachary continues. “I will never forget that show. It was a lot of work, of course, but I enjoyed every moment of it.”

At this stage of his career, Zachary prefers to work with wood. “It’s a traditional building material that has always been so versatile,” he states. “Think of what wood has been used to build: everything from houses, to ships, to sculptures. Using it increases the range of what I can create. My art is not limited to being on a wall. Instead, I can create everything I imagine and give people an experience they will not find anywhere else.”

For more information on Zachary Aronson and his ability to paint art and portraits using only fire, please see:



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