Confectionery is an exhibition of new works and a few favourites.
Before we talk about his latest paintings, we talk about the photograph of international male supermodel Sean O’Pry, whom Zavros managed to convince in 2017 to pose in a plain white T-shirt, holding a plate.
Yes, it is a reference to religious icons.
“But it is about beauty and fashion being a new religion,” Zavros says. “I made a T-shirt for him to wear. He usually gets paid extraordinary amounts of dollars to wear top fashion brands. I call these photographs ‘self-portraits’ in absence, using a better version of me.
“At the time, he was the highest-paid male model. Pop culture had deemed him to be the most relevant or the ‘most perfect’ and I went after him to photograph for those reasons.”
At the time, O’Pry had just been in a music video with pop star Taylor Swift.
Zavros showed the model a mock-up he had made with himself holding the plate and wearing the shirt he made.
“I explained that this was a self-portrait, but made better, effectively,” he laughs.
“I was looking at what might be the new currency, the new religion.”
Other works in Confectionery see Zavros’ hyperrealism play with the traditional still-life imagery he has deliciously “distorted” as flowers and plants to become his readings of still-life.
The idea of still-life artwork preserves an object in time. Zavros cheekily adds organic material – the plants – which will decay these images.
The flowers “adorn” a vanilla sundae, a sleeping panda, a pink rabbit, a church candelabra that becomes a flamingo, an octopus and a traditional scene from a French drawing room, which now includes a sports dressing room’s contemporary weights.
This ironic French drawing room scene – based on a scene from the Versailles Palace – has already been acquired by the Tweed River Gallery.
This commissioned work, The New Garden Drawing Room, took him almost four months to paint.
It is here that Zavros’ fine art technique stands tall. The detail in the shadow work, the depth of field in the vegetation outside the drawing rooms and the detail in the reflections in the weights are all truly impressive.
He chose Confectionery as the title for the exhibition to be entertaining, describing his works as “confections”.
“It is the real and the unreal. They are being playful,” he says.
“I like the idea of the low-brow mocking decorative art.
“Which it is and it isn’t.
“It is something that is like a delicious sweet.”
Bacon believes the inventive, hyperrealist Zavros is now in the dangerous territory for a mid-career artist.
“I think, with Michael, he is in a position where he is about to take off again on another trajectory,” he says.
“The interesting thing about Michael is that he constantly reinvents his approach to what he is doing.
“He will find another approach to keep talking about what he is interested in.”
Confectionery by Michael Zavros exhibits at Philip Bacon Galleries, Arthur Street, Fortitude Valley, until December 7.
Tony Moore is a senior reporter at the Brisbane Times