Queensland based, Australian artist Michael Zavros is presenting ‘The Favourite’ the first state gallery survey show in his career at QAGOMA, Brisbane until 2 October. Zavros is best known for his glamorous realist paintings that often contain unique juxtapositions with specific cultural references.
The gallery has noted that his practice can be understood under a few broad themes, they are, materialism (and offshoot subjects like seduction and aspiration), the self, masculinity or ‘male code’, and alternative realities.
Image: Michael Zavros, Australia b.1974 / V12/Narcissus 2009 / Oil on board / 20 x 29.5cm / Collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales – Gift of the artist 2013. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / © Michael Zavros
On the men in his work, himself and imagery of male fashion models, he said in 2010 in conversation with Tina Komninou, ‘I am quite interested in a male vanity because I think it represents a curious taboo in contemporary culture. It is anathema to stereotypical notions of masculinity, which I ultimately find boring.’
Image: Michael Zavros, Australia b.1974 / The Poodle 2014 / Oil on canvas / 135 x 150cm / Private collection, Sydney / © Michael Zavros
Almost appearing like a photograph Zavros’s meticulous painted compositions are carried out with great control and attention to detail, the artist has said, in conversation with Peter McKay;
‘I love gestural art. I just can’t do it, and I’ve tried. My paintings are all about closer inspection. I want to draw in myself and the viewer.’
As well as paintings the audience will also get to experience sculpture, photography, and video pieces. While photography has become part of the final product in his practice it is also an important generative element, the artist has noted that though he’s never been one to sketch, he has always collected magazine clippings, taken digital photos and later arranged his own photographic scenes from which he will paint.
His compositions which are rendered so finely often include luxury goods and signals of indulgence, such as silk, ripe fruit, luxury cars, crystal wares, swimming pools and exotic floral arrangements. The gallery states, Zavros is ‘frequently engrossed in notions of quality and luxury, fashion and appearance, Zavros’s idealised imagery has developed alongside Australia’s pronounced turn to conspicuous consumption and aspirational individualism.’ The notion of ‘folly’ is an important one in his practice, the idea of something with no practical purpose, and how this may relate to feeling, beauty, artifice and so on.
In the 25 years of practice ‘The Favourite’ covers we also find insight into personal themes such as the artist’s children who are sometimes models, subjects or ‘muse’ in his work, Narcissus and still life and self-portraits. It’s no coincidence the artist paints both self portraits and images of his children, as parents may appreciate that sometimes a child holds a mirror to the parent.