Michele Zaza was born in Molfetta (Puglia) in, 1948. After attending the Institute of Fine Arts in Bari, he moved to Milan to attend the course of sculpture at the Brera Academy under the supervision of the artist Marino Marini. He graduated in 1971, and started working as a photographer.
In his works he presents a personal iconography always connected to a deep reflection on human existence. In the January of 1973 Zaza began the cycle called Dissidenza ignota (Unsuspected disidence), shown by Marilena Bonomo in Bari. The problematic of this work lied in the desire to annihilate authoritarianism. In the work Dissoluzione e mimesi (Dissolution and mimesis), composed of five photographs, Zaza appears suspended upside down while he mimics the actions of a woman’s everyday meal, in this way evidencing the anomalous position of the artist in respect to the normality of life. In 1976 he had a major exhibition at Galleria Ugo Ferrari in Rome, entitled Anamnesi and Universo Estraneo at Lucio Amelio Gallery. In 1978 in Rome Zaza presented works entitled Racconto celeste (Celestial story), where the artist analysis the metaphor of the incorporeal represented by the sky.
Zaza exhibited in prestigious galleries in Europe and in 1980 held an exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. He participated in Documenta 6 and 7 of Kassel in 1980 and presents a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale. In his most recent photographic work, Zaza effected a transfiguration and transformation of the faces, represented with fields of colour which evidence the focal points – nose, forehead, mouth – which subtended the vital functions. From 1996 onwards both the frontality of the faces portrayed in close up and the titles of the works refer to the tradition of the icon. In Zaza’s current work the central element is the face, his own or those of his family.
His works are present in internationally renowned institutions such as Centre Georges Pompidou – Musée National d’Art Moderne (Paris); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris); Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna (Roma); Kunsthaus Zürich (Zurigo).