A PRIZE FOR FLORA

Australian artist Michael Zavros has won this year’s Mosman Art Prize with a painting of his daughter, entitled Flora.

Michael Zavros, Flora, 2016, oil on aluminium.

Michael Zavros, Flora, 2016, oil on aluminium.

Brisbane-based artist Michael Zavros has taken home this year’s prestigious Mosman Art Prize with his painting Flora, which depicts his eldest daughter, Phoebe (11) cloaked in a vintage Gucci silk ‘Flora’ scarf. It’s not the first time Mr Zavros’ daughter has served as his muse, having drawn, painted, photographed and filmed her as part of his practice since she was a baby. Indeed, his 2010 work, Phoebe is dead/Alexander McQueen, in which Ms Zavros lies motionless beneath a skull-printed McQueen scarf, won the Doug Moran Portrait Prize. “She is my muse, but also a surrogate me,” explained Mr Zavros. “In some ways, my portraits of her function as self-portraits: me outside of myself.”

Of Flora, Mr Zavros says: “As she changes and matures, the work changes too. In Flora, Phoebe wears a vintage 1960s Gucci scarf, the famous ‘Flora’ pattern, which depicts European spring blooms, butterflies and insects. Like traditional still life or vanitas painting the flowers present a momento mori, and mark the passing of time and the first flush of youth, on the verge of puberty. The scarf covers her face although she seems to be holding the viewer’s gaze. I enjoy the simultaneous references to fashion photography and classical portraiture, this blending of the sacred and the profane.”