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Alexander McKenzie was introduced to Richard Roxburgh by a mutual friend during the Sydney Theatre Company’s recent, sell-out production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in which Roxburgh played the title role.
Roxburgh is one of Australia’s leading actors whose many credits include an award-winning stage performance in Toy symphony at Belvoir St Theatre, the TV series Rake and East of Everything, the mini-series Blue Murder and the movies Sanctum and Moulin Rouge!. He also directed the film Romulus, my father starring Eric Bana.
‘I have always liked Richard’s work so when I was introduced to him after a performance of Uncle Vanya, I jumped at the chance of asking him to sit for a portrait,’ says McKenzie. ‘I wanted to avoid depicting him in one of the roles he is so well known for. Actors bring a little of themselves to each part – but who is the real Richard Roxburgh?
‘The work reflects the cheeky, youthful enthusiasm that I see in Richard, somewhat irreverent with that wonderful quality of not taking himself too seriously while taking the work very seriously indeed. The bike is a reference to his energy, momentum and youth, and hopefully captures some of the roguish, swashbuckling Australianness that he has off-camera.’
McKenzie says he likes the contradiction of having the bike standing in water and the pictorial effect it creates. ‘Mostly though, when I start thinking about a subject, the image runs at me out of the darkness and to do anything else would be a mistake.’