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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 5 November 2016
14 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 5 NOVEMBER 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Michael Zavros: T Set to showcase his first exhibition in three years, in his home why Australians struggle with his exploration of narcissism ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS M ichael Zavros is not your average artist. Aside from drawing and painting, he has added a number of additional strings to his bow, working with a variety of mediums including photography, sculpture and film. Though the Queensland College of Art graduate is most celebrated for his hyperrealist paintings, which are a result of his hard work and dedication, ultimately to perfection. Those first introduced to Zavros’ work, and even those of us who are more familiar with it, can’t help but take a second, third and even fourth glance in awe of his talents in capturing each detail meticulously, rendering snapshots of life with a paintbrush and giving photographers a run for their money. Raised on the Gold Coast by his Greek- Cypriot father and Australian mother, over the years his work has taken him around the globe, and is said to be some of the nation’s ‘most collectible’, sought after and exhibited throughout Asia, Europe, New Zealand, and now the United States, attaining him A-list status. Now following on from his first exhibition in the US at Art Los Angeles Contemporary, this month the Greek Australian will return to his roots, showcasing his latest exhibition ‘A Million Dollars’ in Queensland − the first in three years. The collection includes a series of works that bring together various mediums exploring themes including narcissism, the passing of time and the fading of youth. The exhibition also includes works from what has developed into an ongoing project with his 11-year-old daughter Phoebe, whose birth also gave way to a new and exciting muse for Zavros, and there’s no denying that the fatherdaughter team have something special going. Their creations have been highly regarded; his piece Phoebe is dead/Alexander McQueen, picturing a five-year-old Phoebe draped in an Alexander McQueen scarf, was awarded the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2010. More recently, in August, Flora, which shows Phoebe undressed from the waist up and veiled in a Gucci scarf – a piece of work which once again is layered with meaning, in this case symbolic of his daughter’s entry into puberty and blossoming into a young woman − won the Mosman Art Prize, outperforming his 96 fellow finalists. Ahead of his exhibition, Neos Kosmos reached out to Zavros for a conversation on his art, which unfolded into a discussion on the perception of his work by various audiences across the globe, his interest in exploring the ancient Greek tale of Narcissus, and the challenges facing artists in 2016 who work with young models, in the aftermath of what is infamously known as the Bill Henson case. At what stage of your life did art start to become your focus? I guess being an artist was something that I always just was as a kid. It almost felt like it wasn't a choice for me, it was just a mantle that people bestow upon you from a young age and I kind of just grew up to be that. Going through art school and some of the obstacles that come afterwards; you start having achievements and you get a sense that you can make a career out of it, or perhaps derive an income from it. But there was no 'aha' moment for me; it was always just something that I wanted to do and I set about trying to do. For those who know your work, you have quite a distinct style. Was this consciously pursued, or was it an aspect of your art that developed organically? Definitely the latter. Your sense of style, it emerges as you develop techniques that you like as an artist and you start to develop your own mark. Those are the sorts of things that just happen over time and maybe sometimes in incremental ways; you sort of take small steps and then you look back and you've come a long way. You certainly have. This year you had your first exhibition in the United States at Art Los Angeles Contemporary. How was your work received? Great; it was a really successful show for me. It was part of an art fair, it's a big thing in the art world – they're a little bit like an expo, where a commercial gallery will take a booth or a small gallery space, and either show a solo exhibition from one of their stable of artists, or perhaps a group exhibition. So my Auckland gallery took me to the LA art fair. It was really well received. I think in lots of ways the international thing has progressed fast because my work is not typically Australian, and there's a kind of audacity to a lot of what I make that a lot of Aussies struggle with at times. But to an American audience, they just think that's great. That's interesting; when you say an "audacity" − what is it exactly that you think Aussies struggle with in your work?
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