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Parksville artist’s portrait shown in 2023 London art show

Spencer Zaborniak also an artist with Vancouver art gallery
Spencer Zaborniak, a graduate of Ballenas Secondary School in Parksville, with his portrait submission to the London Art Biennale art show in July. (Submitted photo)

A portrait entry into the London Art Biennale 2023 art show has gained a Ballenas Secondary School graduate some major exposure.

Spencer Zaborniak joined hundreds of artists who represented 80 countries at the exhibition of paintings, works on paper, sculpture, applied arts and digital art.

“This was the first international show that actually accepted my work. And that was just an incredible feeling,” Zaborniak said.

The Biennale is a museum level award exhibition curated by the International Confederation of Art Critics, the Chianciano Art Museum and Gagliardi Gallery. The event was held in July at Chelsea Old Town Hall just a few blocks away from the River Thames.

Zaborniak’s portrait ‘How Much Does A Dollar Cost? Pt. 2’ shows a young woman holding a burning U.S. dollar bill and represents the destructive power economic greed can wreak on a society, according to Zaborniak.

“When people put that incentive over everything it can cause destruction to the earth and other people,” he said. “The model just so happened to be Ukrainian. For the reference photo we shot the photo of her holding the burning money.”

The photo was taken in late 2021, just a few months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“It was a bizarre coincidence in a kind of way,” he said.

Zaborniak grew up in the Parksville and Nanoose areas and graduated from Ballenas in 2016. He relocated to Vancouver in 2021 to pursue his art career and for the last year or so he has been with the Empty Wall art gallery.

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“Portraits are my main focus. I’ve done a few other paintings that have been a little bit branched out from portraiture,” he said.

Currently he is working on a portrait that plays with the sun’s light casting shadows from nearby leaves across the subject’s face.

“I wanted to capture different lighting and textures with her skin and with the environment and I really wanted her to blend in with the environment,” Zaborniak said. “I like the different contrasts.”

While in London he took in the sights including Big Ben, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. Seeing paintings from centuries ago was fascinating, he said, and added many of them were of royalty.

“You could tell that the artist wanted to portray them with a sense of power,” Zaborniak said. “It was really interesting to see how much portraiture has changed.”

His advice for young people looking to make a career in the arts? Find what drives you in your life.

“Find what gives you the most inspiration in your life and paint from that place, and paint those subjects.”

Zaborniak paints commissions and the best way to reach him is via email at You can check out more of his work on his Instagram page and the Empty Wall art gallery.

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