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Bulgari Art Award painting unveiled

Michael Zavros' The new Round Room now on display

Michael Zavros The new Round Room 2012, 210 × 167 cm, oil on canvas, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Bulgari Art Award 2012

19 July 2012
Today, Dr Michael Brand, director of the Art Gallery of NSW, unveiled Michael Zavros’ new painting The new Round Room. Through the inaugural Bulgari Art Award the work of one of Australia’s finest artists enters the Gallery’s collection.

Dr Brand said 'The Bulgari Art Award has enabled the Gallery to acquire an exceptional painting by Michael Zavros for our permanent collection. With Bulgari’s assistance we now have one of Michael’s most ambitious paintings and one that will create great interest.’

The new work is a large-scale, meticulously detailed painting of an interior of the Grand Trianon in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. The painting is mesmerising in its beauty and complexity. It exhibits both Zavros’ extraordinary technical skill and his fascination with the cultural achievements of the European aristocracy and the French ancien régime – the buildings, gardens and interiors created with unlimited wealth and power.

The Round Room is an exquisite 17th-century vestibule to the Grand Apartment occupied by Louis XIV. Zavros has painted a view from inside the room looking out through a window to the famous and flower-filled formal gardens which surround the Trianon.

Wayne Tunnicliffe, the Gallery’s head curator of Australian art, comments: 'The detail of the lavish interior has been painted by Zavros: the inlaid floor of black, white and mottled brown marble, panelled walls, columns framing the window embrasure, the large chandelier and elaborate later Napoleonic period torcheres. Positioned in front of the window, however, is a weightlifting bench; with this unexpected juxtaposition, Zavros has turned this historic room into a contemporary gymnasium.

The placement of the gym equipment in this setting spins the painting into a contemplation of narcissism and desire, of vanity and even vanitas, of the passing of time and human beauty. There is no one benchpressing weights, but the equipment awaits a user and suggests a contemporary pursuit of physical perfection which has echoes in the pursuit of architectural perfection in the building and the perfecting of nature in the highly cultivated gardens.’

Julie Ann Morrison, managing director, Bulgari Australia, said: 'It is Bulgari’s pleasure to fund the acquisition of the painting, The new Round Room by Michael Zavros, which has become part of the state collection of the Art Gallery of NSW. This painting is one of Michael’s finest works, a museum-quality work, and an exemplar of his masterful style.’

Note to editors

The Bulgari Art Award consists of a $50,000 painting acquisition for the Art Gallery of NSW and a residency in Italy valued at $30,000. The total award of $80,000 is one of the most valuable art awards in Australia. The award-winner has been selected by the Art Gallery of NSW Trustees and the head curator of Australian art.

Brisbane-based Michael Zavros graduated from the Queensland College of Art with a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 1996. Zavros has exhibited widely within Australia and his work is held in numerous private and public collections including: The National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, University of Queensland Art Museum and Tasmanian Museum and Gallery. Zavros was the subject of a survey exhibition The good son: works on paper(2009) at Gold Coast City Art Gallery. His other public solo exhibitions include Everything I wanted at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2003–04) and Egoiste at Wollongong Regional Gallery (2007). Recent group exhibitions include Wilderness, Art Gallery of NSW (2010) and Scott Redford vs Michael Zavros at the Institute of Modern Art (2010). Zavros has been a four-time Archibald Prize finalist and won the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2010.

Bulgari was founded in Rome in 1884 as a single jewellery shop, whose magnificent jewellery creations soon became emblems of Italian excellence. Throughout the last few decades Bulgari developed into a global luxury brand renowned for its highly creative design in jewels, watches and accessories, and retailing in the major luxury retail precincts of the world. Up until 2011 Bulgari was majority-owned by the Bulgari family and, though it is now part of the LVMH Group, the Bulgari family is still instrumental in the management of the Bulgari brand and the design of jewellery. International success has carried the distinctive Bulgari design into a diversified portfolio of products and services and, increasingly, hotels.

Media contact

Claire Martin
Tel +61 2 9225 1734
Mob 0414 437 588
claire.martin@ag.nsw.gov.au