Michael Zavros

23/8/12 – Phoebe is Dead/McQueen, 2010

The other day I was introduced to the works of Michael Zavros, a contemporary artist who has appropriated Alexander Mcqueen’s skull printed scarfs. According to Adam Fulton from the Sydney Morning Herald, Zavros has painted an image of his daughter whose body was covered with the scarf from Mcqueen’s popular skull collection.

Fulton quotes “For his five-year-old daughter, Phoebe, it was a just a game. But Michael Zavros’s inspiration for painting Phoebe is Dead/McQueen, for which he has won $150,000 in Australia’s most lucrative portrait prize, was deadly serious” (Adam Fulton, 2010)

In response to the article, Zavros painting may reflect how Alexander McQueen’s skull collection has inspired contemporary art and design. McQueen’s innovative designs have survived long after his death and one could argue that the skull printed scarfs have become an internationally recognised symbol.In Zavros’s painting, McQueen’s scarf cover’s the model’s motionless form that is also positioned against a pale white backdrop. Zavros confronts his own anxieties surrounding death through the skull printed scarf.

In relation to Michael Zavros’s work, The Metro Gallery quotes “His disturbing painting articulates his fear for the safety of his children, with a nod to the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen” (Metro Gallery,2010)

Perhaps Zavros’s painting demonstrates how hard it can be to avoid the image of death within the mass media and the consumer culture. The painting may reflect that the image of death is almost impossible to avoid within contemporary art, design and popular culture. Phoebe motionless body is juxtaposed with  the blue and orange fabric that features the skull in different shapes or sizes.

After a few glances, I have recognised that there an unusual subject opposite the model’s head that appears quite similar to blood. I decided to take a closer look at the image and I had actually recognised an image of the skull in the pool of blood that seeps from the model’s head. I am not to sure as to whether the skull is intentional although it does provide a very interesting composition with the scarf.

The skull features a dark, sinister appearance that contrasts with the grinning skulls on Mcqueen’s printed scarfs. Zavros painting is a very powerful image that also questions whether the skull is a symbol of death or just another consumable product.

Metro Gallery Blog, “Phoebe Is Dead”, Metro Gallery, http://blog.metrogallery.com.au/2010/08/phoebe-is-deadmcqueen/ Metro Gallery,2010 (Accessed 23/8/12)

Adam Fulton, “Fear and Death Inspired by Winning Study of Human Frailty”, Sydney Morning Herald 2010, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/fear-and-death-inspired-winning-study-of-human-frailty-20100810-11y7v.html (Accessed 23/8/12)

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