Michael Zavros

Michael Zavros is a Brisbane-based mid-career artist with a national and international profile. He is best known for his highly detailed paintings, sculptures and drawings. Zavros studied printmaking at Queensland College of Art in the 1990s. Zavros has won a number of prestigious awards for his work, including the Primavera Collex award through the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, in 2004; the Kedumba Prize for drawing in 2007; and the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2010. In 2012 he won the inaugural Bulgari Art Award, an acquisitive prize in partnership with The Art Gallery of New South Wales. His resulting painting, The New Round Room, is now in their collection.

You’re a Brisbane-based artist, living on a property outside of the city, and you grew up on the Gold Coast. In recent years you have developed an international profile, but how has this Queensland background influenced your work?

The Gold Coast is such a strange place, obsessed as it is with newness and reinvention, constantly undergoing surgery, obliterating its own history. Everything is big and shiny and new. The opposite of this became exotic to me, and what I craved. It’s hard to imagine now anyone being remote from almost anything – we all have television, internet. As a boy I pored over books and magazines that described a world different to the one I inhabited which was a humble sometimes harsh, less bucolic, certainly less romantic environment. I think this was very formative. It is often observed that we seek in our occupation or in our partners that which we lack, we subconsciously draw to ourselves what we truly desire. I think artists do this through their work.

You use a lot of imagery gleaned from fashion in your paintings, drawings and sculptures. How significant is fashion in your work, and how do you conceptualise the relationship between art and fashion?

I like the perfect world, the fictional utopia that fashion/magazines so beautifully articulates. I’m drawn to this more than fashion itself.

What is your relationship to fashion; self loathing, or self-expression?

The latter, but formerly, the former.

Where do you look for inspiration on matters of style?

Mostly I think I look to the past. I’ll take notice of the cut of Connery’s suit in a Bond film maybe. I loved Richard Gere in American Gigolo, the young self assured dandy, his carefully selected wardrobe describing his identity, all that early 80’s Armani right down to the black Mercedes SL he got around in…

What is your most treasured dress-related object or memory?

Probably riding jodphurs, those strange tights that girls and boys have to wear. They were a part of my daily uniform, riding every afternoon and competing on weekends. And then I hit puberty and I hated them with a passion. And they were terrible in the rain.

Give us three words, people or places you associate with Queensland fashion…

Misunderstood, optimistic, independent

Is there such a thing as a distinct Queensland style?

I think like anywhere our style reflects not only the culture but the climate. When you buy pretty much anything it’s with mild winters and hot summers in mind, so suits for example need to be light. Sometimes I’m surprised at how colourful we are here in Queensland. I’m aware of this when I’m interstate at party that looks like a funeral.

Michael Zavros, drawing for the Just like Honey collaboration with Gail Sorronda, 2013
Michael Zavros, drawing for the Just like Honey collaboration with Gail Sorronda, 2013Michael Zavros

Published in , on August 27, 2013.