Sydney Contemporary 2017

Starkwhite will present a two-person exhibition by Fiona Pardington (NZ) and Michael Zavros (AUS) at this year’s edition of Sydney Contemporary. The fair runs from 7 – 10 September with a by-invitation VIP preview on 6 September. 

Pardington presents four new works, two of which are a part of her recent body of work Nabokov’s Blues: The Charmed Circle, which debuted at the Honolulu Biennial earlier this year. Though more well-known for his novels, Vladimir Nabokov was also a renowned lepidopteristGranted special access to the butterflies he caught and killed, Pardington travelled to Europe and America to meticulously document the blue-winged specimens. The photographs capture the strangeness and beauty of the creatures that captivated Nabokov. In keeping with her fascination for creatures of flight, the other two works are executed using a new photo montage technique to combine images of the extinct New Zealand huia wattlebird and her children.

Pardington’s new works are accompanied by recent and earlier photographs selected to represent her larger project – conserving our lost histories, breathing life back into museum archives and embedding new stories into the subjects at the same time.

Michael Zavros paints beautiful things beautifully. His subjects include European palaces, gardens and follies; up-market men’s fashion, flowers, luxury cars and jewellery; Lipizzaner dressage horses and Japanese pedigree onagadori chickens. 

Increasingly the artist is turning his gaze inward, to home and self, making work that engages with beauty and the culture of narcissism. The Zavros lifestyle is depicted and documented in his art. He paints what he appears to have become – a poster boy for a life perfected. He lives an outwardly perfect life, perfectly groomed for lifestyle magazines and shared through social media – he has 95,000 followers on Instagram.

Zavros’s artworks present at first glance as perfectly rendered photo-realist painting, but they generate readings and responses beyond the surface affect. They underscore contemporary society’s obsession with beauty and vanity. Like advertising, what is being created in a Zavros painting is not so much an object, a type of physical thing, but rather an artificial need or desire. “It is part of the function of narcissism — the aim of narcissism,” writes psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, “to expose by provocation the narcissism of those with whom it comes into contact.”

Fiona Pardington bio

Pardington (b. Cameron 1961) is of Māori (Ngāi Tahu, Kati Mamoe and Ngāti Kahungunu); Scottish (Clan Cameron of Erracht); MacDonald and O’Niell descent. Her photography explores themes of memory, time, history, photographer and subject. By photographing taonga Māori (historical treasures), nature specimens and other museum artefacts, she revives their human and spiritual contexts, uniting postcolonial politics and reparative aesthetics.

Pardington has a Doctorate in Fine Arts from Auckland University and has received several laureates, fellowships, residencies, awards and grants. She was made a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by France in 2016 and a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2017.

In 2015 she was honoured with a 30 year survey exhibition which toured museums in three New Zealand cities. Her work has been included in many important international group exhibitions and biennials including the Kiev Biennial, Ukraine, 17th Biennale of Sydney, Australia, and is held in all significant Australasian public collections, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, and the National Gallery of Canada. Her most recent work explored novelist Vladimir Nabokov’s butterfly collecting and appeared in the 1st Honolulu Biennial in 2017. 

Michael Zavros bio

Michael Zavros was born in Brisbane in 1974. He graduated from Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, with a Bachelor of Visual Arts, in 1996. His work has been exhibited throughout Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the United States and Europe.

He won the Mosman Art Prize in 2016, the inaugural Bulgari Art Award in 2012, the Doug Moran Moran National Portrait Prize (the world’s richest portraiture prize) in 2010, and MCA Primavera Collex Art Award in 2004. He has won three major drawing prizes: Kedumba Drawing Award in 2007, Robert Jacks Drawing Prize in 2005, and Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award in 2002. He has been an Archibald Prize finalist on several occasions. 

He had a survey exhibition, Magic Mike, Newcastle Art Gallery, 2017. Other solo shows include Bad Dad, Starkwhite, Auckland, 2014; The Prince, Rockhampton Art Gallery and Griffith University Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2013; The Good Son: Works on Paper, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, 2009; and Everything I Wanted, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2013. Through Starkwhite, he has had solo presentations at Art Los Angeles Contemporary, 2016, and Art Basel Hong Kong, 2015.

His group exhibitions include Surface Affect, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, 2017; Selectively Revealed, an Asialink and Experimenta Media Arts touring exhibition, 2012; Uncanny (The Unnaturally Strange), Artspace, Auckland, 2007; 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, 2016; GOMA Q, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2015; Wilderness, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2010; Scott Redford Vs. Michael Zavros, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2010; Contemporary Australia: Optimism, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2008; and Primavera, 2000, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. 

Zavros has enjoyed residencies: PACC, Shanghai, 2017; Australia Council Greene Street Studio, New York, 2015; Australia Council Barcelona Studio, 2010 and 2005; Gunnery Studios, Sydney (through Ministry for the Arts, NSW), 2004; Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (through Power Institute, University of Sydney), 2003; and Australia Council Milan Studio, 2001.

In 2016 he was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to paint Dame Quentin Bryce, and in 2013 by the Australian War Memorial to paint Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith.

He serves on the National Association for the Visual Arts’ Board and the Queensland College of Art’s Advisory Committee. Between 2007 and 2011, he was a member of the Australia Council’s Visual Arts Board.

His work is held in numerous Australian public collections, including Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Artbank, Sydney; Griffith University Art Collection, Brisbane; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Portrait Gallery, Canberra; Newcastle Art Gallery, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart; and University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane.




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