Zavros brings muscle to Newcastle Art Gallery with exhibition MAGIC MIKE

02 Mar 2017

Brisbane-based artist Michael Zavros will stage a major solo exhibition of his work at Newcastle Art Gallery from 4 March to 28 May 2017.

MAGIC MIKE, curated by Newcastle Art Gallery and the artist, is a comprehensive exhibition of his practice and features works dating from 1999-2017. Drawn from the Gallery’s holdings as well as important private and public collections, the collected works articulate the artist's ongoing interest in the idea of the 'body beautiful' in art and contemporary society’s obsession with self-perfection and vanity.

"This major solo exhibition is fantastic for Newcastle," says Newcastle Art Gallery Manager Lauretta Morton. "The Gallery has been building a strong relationship with Michael over a number of years, which has culminated in this exhibition, as well as the acquisition of two significant works of art, which are on display for the first time in Australia."

The Mermaid 2015 oil on board 22.0 x 30.0cm Purchased 2015 Newcastle Art Gallery collection Courtesy the artist and Starkwhite

The exhibition’s title, MAGIC MIKE, playfully references the 2012 movie of the same name. The physique of the lead character, played by Channing Tatum, is to Zavros the pop-culture equivalent of an ancient Adonis; the male form perfected.

“My work deals more broadly with concepts of beauty, an age old art historical tradition," says Zavros. "Recently, I have been making works that look to the tradition of still life and vanitas painting as a kind of meditation on the fleeting nature of youth.”

Continuing this theme, the artist has incorporated a performative element to the MAGIC MIKE exhibition. A temporary gymnasium installed alongside the art works will be activated through a series of live performances, drawing an allusion between the repetitive act of working out and the act of painting; both of which the artist suggests are almost romantic pursuits. Zavros has long been interested in gym culture and Newcastle has the highest concentration of gyms per capita of any Australian city. Like many of his paintings, these performances hold a mirror up to society and offer an autobiographical account of the artist.

“The exhibition includes a series of work featuring my daughter Phoebe who has become something of a muse for me," Zavros explains. "I often remark that she is me outside of myself; the exhibition looks at my practice in a self-autobiographical context, and in gathering the work together I think there will emerge some kind of narrative of the recent past.”

Included in the exhibition are three works from Newcastle Art Gallery’s collection; the etching Disappear Here 2011 and two significant new paintings The Mermaid 2015 and The Sunbather 2015, previously exhibited at Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2016.

The Sunbather 2015 pays homage to the work of British-born, Los Angeles-based artist David Hockney and expands on Zavros’ ongoing exploration of the myth of Narcissus depicting the artist beside his swimming pool. The Mermaid 2015 also uses the artist’s home pool as its setting capturing his daughter Phoebe floating with her hair spooling out on the surface of the water. These images of self and the self as mediated through his daughter offer a glimpse of the artist through an inward looking lens.

Exhibition Opening
Friday 3 March from 5:30pm
Please join Newcastle Art Gallery and the artist to officially open the MAGIC MIKE exhibition, and be the first to see the exhibition's gymnasium installation activated with live performers. Free for Art Gallery Society and Foundation members, $10 non-members.

Curator Exhibition Tour with Michael Zavros
Saturday 4 March, 2-3pm
With the artist and co-curator as your personal tour guide, explore MAGIC MIKE to gain insight into the exhibition’s themes and Zavros’ remarkably life-like painting techniques. Free event, no bookings required.