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Michael Zavros: A Million Dollars Exhibition at Philip Bacon Galleries

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by Marina Marangos (subscribe)
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A Million Dollars
Haven't you been to art galleries and looked around and a little voice inside says – "I could have done that".

Well this time you cant, or if you can, you will be as special as the extraordinary Michael Zavros, who at the tender age of 42 seems to have the skills, the know how and the delivery of a 16th Century Dutch grandmaster of still life.

Michael Zavros at Philip Bacon Galleries
Michael Zavros at Philip Bacon Galleries

The artist Michael Zavros
The artist Michael Zavros

Michael's exhibition is currently on at the Philip Bacon galleries on 2 Arthur St in New Farm. The opening hours are 10 am to 5 pm every day, except Sunday and Monday. May I suggest you make time for this one. It is probably one of the most awaited exhibitions in Brisbane of the entire year and at its opening, George Brandis and Quentin Bryce were on hand to show their support for this young but superbly talented artist. Zavros was commissioned to paint a portrait of Quentin Bryce for the National Gallery in Canberra and this is to be shown to the public in the next few weeks.


What makes Zavros exceptional is his set of skills, which combined with a quirky and lateral mind, allows for objects and people to be transformed into the most sublime and delicate works of art.

In saying so, he treats every single picture with painstaking care so there is perfection when it is finally complete. If anything were a testament to his success, I would say that the majority of his works were sold even before the show opened.

The centrepiece, if I can call it that, named Phoenix, was bought by the Gallery of Modern Art in South Australia, but Nick Mitzevich, the Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia who opened the exhibition kindly arranged for it to come to the gallery for the purposes of this event. As he pointed out, this was probably one of the few art shows you will visit with a bouncer at the door ready to check your credentials and to make sure you are a bona fide art lover, such is the care and attention lavished on this picture.

How would I characterise Zavros's work? Superbly representational, finely detailed and rewarding. Apparently this time he created a new technique whereby all the outline was painted in a chiaroscuro background and then the exquisite detail of each flower and each leaf was painted over that. But in addition to the sheer artistry involved in the painting are the clever twists and turns and unexpected optical illusions, which transform the object being viewed into something completely different. There is no doubt that Michael's mind creates these alternative images, which he then gives credence to on the canvas.

So, for example, I loved the two paintings called Jellyfish – of course, their composition is anything but jellyfish in their essence, but you stand back from the painting and the tentacles are tantalisingly true and moving and the colours real.


Long Jellyfish
Long Jellyfish

The lower floor has some of Michael's earlier works. He went through a phase of painting and making horses in their finest detail and some of his drawings and castes are on display there as well as his cobra-like Versace ties, which twist and curl up in fashionable forms from the floor.

The Gallery of Modern Art's latest acquisition was Bad Dad –shortlisted for the Archibald Prize. This has been successfully acquired with the help of benefactors and supporters of GOMA and now hangs proudly at the top of the escalator. You might think this is a picture of a dad swimming in the pool and actually stealing the kids' things to have a bit of fun but just come in a little closer and look at the way it has been painted and put together and marvel at the skill and the depth of this creation.

Bad Dad
Bad Dad

The exhibition is called A Million Dollars – once more you can see the success of the name on many levels – the paintings probably cost a million dollars, so start saving now, but they are a million dollars worthy.

Michael Zavros: A Million Dollars in on at the Philip Bacon Galleries until the 10th of December 2016.
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Why? Extraordinary art in the 21st Century.
When: 18th November to 10th December 2016.
Phone: 07 3358 3555
Where: 2 Arthur St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
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