Illusion lies at the heart of Queensland artist Michael Zavros’ practice. Recalling the fifth-century Greek fable of Zeuxis and Parrahasius, where the two artists tried to outwit each other through their skilful renderings of grapes, so lifelike that birds came to eat them, Zavros’ paintings are not what they seem at first. Zavros carefully selects blooms and decorative objects before arranging, photographing and painting them. The meticulously rendered works are so realistic that like Zeuxis’ grapes in the Greek fable, they fool the viewer’s eye and remind us that the act of paining is in fact an act of deception. Zavros has used objects from the Gallery’s including Paul Storr and John Flaxman’s Dessert stand (1812-13) and Henry Steiner’s Adelaide Hunt Club Cup 1883 (1883) in his painting The Phoenix (2015-16). Included in Magic Object the work recalls the European tradition of still life painting while also boasting a zoomorphic quality. The blooms and the objects rendered in such magnificent detail have been assembled to resemble a creature which may magically awaken from the canvas and suddenly take flight.
Michael Zavros’ work will be on display in Gallery 23 at the Art Gallery of South Australia during Magic Object.