'The Prince' By Michael Zavros

published in: Art By Tina Komninou, 08 June 2013

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Michael Zavros
The making of 'The Prince' collection.
Courtesy of the artist.

Michael Zavros is by far one of our favorite artists of the 21st c. Through all of his collections, there have been works that have overwhelmed and excited us, that have been photographed in our brains and remained there as a source of admiration. Now with his new collection ‘THE PRINCE’ at the Griffith University Art Gallery in Queensland College of Art campus (226 Grey Street, South Bank, Brisbane Q 4101, Australia) which will be on view till the 7th July, 2013, he takes us on a journey to reminisce about the perfect American Manly Man. This of course is the proud, all American COWBOY, a figure who has gained instant recognition and become such a strong role model through the medium of advertising.

But to unravel and understand the concept behind this collection, you must first know the name Richard Prince. Whilst working for Time-Life in the tear sheet department in the 70s & 80s, Prince became known for his artworks made out of fragmented photographed magazine images. These iconic reproductions were soon feted as copying genius. His works became hugely sought after, with one theme in particular. The no bull, hard working and raw All American cowboy of the fictional Marlboro Country.

Michael Zavros
Prince/Zavros 6, 2012
oil on board
15.0 x 10.0 cm
Long term loan from a private collection 2012. Proposed gift to Rockhampton Art Gallery under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

Now, 30 years later, Zavros has brought Prince’s images back to life, re-introducing them to the public eye in the form of his own, highly detailed paintings filled with nostalgia, emotion and precision. One piece in particular truly encapsulates what makes Michael Zavros such a unique and sought after artist. ‘Prince/Zavros 6' (2012) truly illustrates the artist’s unbelievable ability to capture a photographed image on canvas with brush strokes that express the purest essence of emotion. And the result? A detailed image perfected to look like a photograph whilst still keeping the genuine character of the brushstroke intact.  The reality produced on canvas is neither flat nor soulless; it has all types of soul and character. The grains are reminiscent of a magazine print from the 70s, proving Zavros’ attention to detail. The cowboy, almost alive, looks like he is ready to jump out of the painting itself. Yes, with this artist it’s all about detail, ultimate precision and a love for everything luxurious.

This love was very apparent in his very successful ‘Suit suite’ collection (1999-2001). Here his works consisting of unbelievable high quality garments, half naked men with their half dressed to impress & accessories of the highest demand made it apparent that the artist has a passion for everything that entails luxury and pricelessness. Moving on from that to his newest creation, one could say that the artist has taken a completely different route. However nothing could be further from the truth. Looking through Richard Prince’s re-photographs, it becomes immediately apparent that his process of cropping and framing is that of high-end fashion photography. A coincidence brought to realization with the research for this project. Two worlds so different but yet so in tune with one another, one’s mind leaps to think of the connections that bind everything.

from top to bottom, left to right:
Belts, 2000 / oil on board /13.0 x 16.0 cm  /Collection of the artist.
Grey pant, 2000 / oil on board / 11.3 x 14.3 cm / Collection of the artist.
Crimson, 2000 / oil on board / 9.8 x 9.8 cm /Private collection.
Ferragamo, 2000 / oil on board / 14.8 x 20.4 cm / Private collection.
Stride, 2000 / oil on board /10.5 x 15.9 cm  / Collection of the artist.
Crossed, 2000 / oil on board / 14.8 x 13.7 cm  / Private collection.

Michael Zavros
Ochre, 2000
14.6 x 15.5 cm
oil on board
Private Collection

Michael Zavros
The Tiger, 2012
oil on canvas
210.0 x 170.0 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries

Which brings us to the ultimate piece that brings these two worlds together. Here the artist has united the American raw countryside with the modernity of city living. In ‘The Tiger’ (2012), the artist becomes the art. Breaking all barriers, Richard Prince himself features in the painting encompassing all that is design in Le Corbusier tiger pelt topped Chaise lounge. The symbolism of Prince’s re-incorporation is out there for all to see and it has been brought into the world of Now. The dynamism of this piece is great. It is a unity of two worlds, two artists and ultimately two interpretations.

One of our interpretations begs the question much asked by many of us today. A cowboy can possess all types of luxury, no questions asked. He can even walk into the chicest and most opulent of living rooms in his leather boots, take of his hat and sit comfortably on a Le Corbusier Chair. The question is: are we going against his nature bringing him into these surroundings or are we finally learning that there is no one type of place for something just because it has been packaged a certain way?

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EXHIBITION DATES: 24 May – 7 July 2013

The exhibition which brings together the Prince/Zavros series of drawings and paintings with recent paintings of interiors, earlier paintings of men’s fashion drawn from commercial advertising, and ‘TV’ paintings has travelled to Griffith University Art Gallery, Brisbane, from Rockhampton Art Gallery, where it was on show from 16 February – 7 April 2013.

Michael Zavros
Prince/Zavros 8, 2012
oil on board
30.0 x 20.6 cm
Long term loan from the artist 2012. Proposed gift to Rockhampton Art Gallery under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

Michael Zavros
Prince/Zavros 5, 2012
oil on board
23.0 x 12.9 cm
Long term loan from a private collection 2012. Proposed gift to Rockhampton Art Gallery under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

Michael Zavros
Prince/Zavros 7, 2012
14.8 x 26.5 cm
oil on board
Courtesy of the artist and Rockhampton Art Gallery

Michael Zavros
The Python, 2011
oil on canvas
210.0 x 185.0 cm
Private collection

Michael Zavros
Prince/Zavros 9, 2012
oil on board
14.0 x 21.0 cm
Long term loan from a private collection 2012. Proposed gift to Rockhampton Art Gallery under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

Michael Zavros
The making of 'The Prince' collection.
Courtesy of the artist.

Michael Zavros
Prince/Zavros 11, 2012
charcoal on paper
86.0 x 92.5 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries

Michael Zavros
Prince/Zavros 10, 2012
oil on board
13.5 x 19.8 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries

Michael Zavros
Prince/Zavros 4, 2012
charcoal on paper
122.0 x 86.0 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries

Michael Zavros
The Lioness, 2010
oil on canvas
210.0 x 180.0 cm
Courtesy of the artist and National Gallery of Australia.

Michael Zavros
Tony combs his hair for Saturday night, 1998
oil on canvas
150.0 x 150.0 cm
Collection of the artist

sources:

Michael Zavros

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