Michael Zavros puts some muscle into art

BOLD REFLECTION: Artist Michael Zavros, standing in front of his painted image in The Sunbather, at Newcastle Art Gallery. Picture: Marina Neil

Standing in front of a painting with its creator can be awkward at the best of times. But standing in front of The Sunbather in Newcastle Art Gallery with Michael Zavros, I’m lost for words.

Actually, I’m not. I just don’t think it would be appropriate to say, “nice bum”.  

Through what they paint, artists have the ability to reveal some inner truth about the human condition. With The Sunbather, Michael Zavros has revealed his bottom.

“In the privacy of my studio, when I’m not really thinking about an audience for the work, I can do these things,” Zavros explains of his revelatory self-portrait. ‘Yet I’m confronted with this painting, and it just shocks me. ‘Did I make that? And did this gallery actually buy that?’

“I’m suddenly able to see it from a completely different perspective.”

The painting shows Zavros lying naked by a pool, and he is staring at his own reflection. The Sunbather references art history, from David Hockney to Caravaggio, but ultimately your eyes are drawn not to the past but to that buff and tanned body.  

“I think I made it for those reasons, I can talk about Hockney, and about narcissism and role play and those sorts of things,” muses the artist. “But then I just think, ‘Wow, that’s a very audacious thing to do’.

In the flesh, Michael Zavros is not audacious. The 42-year-old is considered, picking his words as carefully as he applies paint to his hyper-realist pictures of beauty. 

Yet Zavros has a reputation for audacity, at least in his public life. For an exhibition at the Melbourne Art Fair at the time of his 40th birthday, Zavros hired the Stenmark twins, who are male models, to hand out chocolates embossed with his monogram. He is often photographed at glamorous openings and awards nights. Zavros himself has won a swag of awards, including the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, the richest of its type in the world. He is also keenly sought after for commissions, having painted portraits of former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce for the National Portrait Gallery and Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith for the Australian War Memorial. 

“He’s a rock star in contemporary art,” says Lauretta Morton, the manager of Newcastle Art Gallery. “There’s a public side to him, and there’s the quiet side to him at home. He’s a very serious kind of guy.” 

The public and the private, the performer and the painter, often collide on the canvas. His technique is applauded, but the paintings’ flashiness can blind the viewer to what’s going on under the surface, or the skin, of his images.  

“What’s interesting for me with that kind of [hyper-realist] painting is that there is something completely pointless about it … and it makes it kind of romantic and ridiculous,” Zavros says. “There is on the surface a kind of disconnect, I suppose, but while I talk about something that seems to be pointless, it’s incredibly meaningful to me. What I make and why I do it is significant.”

In The Sunbather, Zavros is baring not just his body but his soul to explore vanity and self-obsession. 

“In some ways, this is as ancient as the Greeks, the idealised human body, but I think in the past few centuries that has become repressed and often seen in bad terms for us men. But I think that’s changed. 

“I think social media has really accelerated that. It fascinates me, but I can’t really see the end point with all this. I think that’s scary. I have young kids, and I think about their lives and what they are starting to want to project.”

Vanity, and the effort required to create and maintain beauty, is a focus of Zavros’ exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery, which opens March 4. It’s titled Magic Mike, a cheeky reference to his own name, and to a Hollywood film about a troupe of male strippers, which, Zavros admits, he hasn’t watched all the way through.

Lauretta Morton first raised the possibility of an exhibition with Zavros in 2015. She has known him since they worked together on a group exhibition at the gallery in 2004, Auto Fetish, looking at Newcastle’s car culture. More recently, she had negotiated with him to buy The Sunbather and another work, The Mermaid, for Newcastle’s collection.

When Morton visited Zavros at his family home and studio in Brisbane last year, he suggested Magic Mike. And, to bring the paintings to life, he proposed setting up a gym in the gallery.   

“At first, I thought, ‘Are you mad?’,” laughs Morton.

But the gym equipment is being installed, and a group of “well-structured male performers” will be working out in front of the paintings. Morton reckons the mingling of art and muscle will appeal to gallery goers.

“Newcastle has such a huge gym culture,” she says. “When you think about it, there’s a gym on just about every corner. There’s no milk bars anymore, just gyms!”

“Basically these guys will be working out among the art,” explains Zavros. “I’m interested in surprising people, or encouraging people to think about something that wouldn’t normally happen inside a gallery.”

The artist sees a link between the act of painting and working out in a gym. “It has this pointless, showy quality to it that someone can be incredibly dedicated to, much like painting,” he says. “It’s this very careful process, a long process.” 

FAMILY PORTRAIT: Michael Zavros in his Brisbane studio last year with daughter, and frequent portrait subject, Phoebe. Picture: Paul Harris 

FAMILY PORTRAIT: Michael Zavros in his Brisbane studio last year with daughter, and frequent portrait subject, Phoebe. Picture: Paul Harris

In painting youth, Zavros often depicts his 11-year-old daughter, Phoebe. She is the subject in the disconcertingly intense The Mermaid, in which she is floating in the pool that her father used for his self-portrait in The Sunbather. Given she is approaching her teenage years, and body image is a major issue for many adolescents, I ask how comfortable both he and Phoebe are about her being painted. 

“She likes it, she likes the work we do,” says the father of three. “It’s that curious thing where you want to guide them and help them and kind of protect them and then let them be themselves. It’s such a different line to negotiate.”

Michael Zavros reckons to paint the subject of vanity, he only has to look in the mirror.  

“I’m definitely vain, but even that’s waning,” Zavros says. “As a parent, you just don’t get the chance to be self-focused, you don’t think about those things so much.        

“When I work out, or I run or I swim now, it’s much less about trying to look good. The older I get, the more I’m a parent, I don’t have time to think about those sorts of things. But it really keeps me sane to run and swim, to do something physical.” 

Στην Υγειά μας, Αποκριάτικο Πάρτυ – 25/2/2017 – full video

Άρωμα αποκριάς έχει η εκπομπή «Στην υγειά μας ρε παιδιά» το Σάββατο 25 Φεβρουαρίου, στις 21:00. 

Ένα πάρτι χαράς που τον ρυθμό δίνουν ο Κώστας Μακεδόνας και ο Χρήστος Μάστορας με το συγκρότημα «Μέλισσες» και μας ξεσηκώνουν με τα τραγούδια τους.

Σ’ αυτή την γιορτή κοντά μας είναι εκλεκτοί καλεσμένοι μεταξύ των οποίων οι Ολυμπιονίκες Λευτέρης Πετρούνιας, Σπύρος Γιαννιώτης και Κλέλια Πανταζή.

Στην παρέα μας και η Κωνσταντίνα Σπυροπούλου και η ομάδα της εκπομπής «Σπίτι μου σπιτάκι μου»: Παύλος Σταματόπουλος, Φλορίντα Πετρουτσέλι, Σάββας Πούμπουρας και Νάνσυ Παραδεισανού. Ακόμα, η Μαίρη Συνατσάκη «ξεδιπλώνει» το ταλέντο της και στο τραγούδι, ο Λάκης Γαβαλάς με το μοναδικό του στυλ, ο δημοσιογράφος και ραδιοφωνικός παραγωγός Νίκος Συρίγος, η Άννα Πολύζου, ο Άρης Πλασκασοβίτης, ο Κωνσταντίνος Αγγελίδης, η διευθύντρια προγράμματος του ραδιοφωνικού σταθμού DERTI Εύη Αγγελίνα, ο διαιτολόγος Κωσταντίνος Χαρδαβέλλας και οι παρουσιάστριες Έβελυν Καζατζόγλου και Ευαγγελία Τσιορλίδα. 

Τέλος, στο μουσικό μέρος της εκπομπής συμμετέχουν επίσης οι: Ζωή Παπαδοπούλου, Πέννυ Μπαλτατζή, Γιάννα Φαφαλιού, Μαίρη Δούτση και Δήμητρα Κελεκίδη.

Two Aussies to contest Eurovision 2017

Australian-born and raised singer Anya Nissen has won a Danish competition to represent that country in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Two Australians will be competing in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest after NSW-born Anya Nissen beat nine other finalists for the right to represent Denmark. After narrowly finishing second last year in Denmark’s Eurovision selection competition – the Danish Melodi Grand Prix – Nissen triumphed on Saturday in the city of Herning with her song Where I Am.

Nissen, 21, brought up on her Danish parents’ farm west of Sydney, won The Voice on Australian TV in 2014 when she was coached by Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am.

The Eurovision news site, ESCDAILY.com, says she was asked by SBS to go to Eurovision in 2015. But eventually SBS chose Guy Sebastian instead.

In May in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, Nissen will be vying against the yet-to-be-announced Australian entrant and others in the Eurovision contest.

Last May in Stockholm, Australian singer Dami Im came second overall and won the jury vote with her song Sound of Silence, paving the way for Australia to be represented again this year.

Sebastian, Australia’s first entrant in the contest, came fifth in Vienna in 2015 with his song Tonight Again.

The Australian artist chasing Eurovision glory at the world’s biggest song contest is about to be announced, on Tuesday 7 March.  

For the first time ever, Australia’s artist and song will both be revealed at the same time in an intimate live performance at a secret location in Melbourne – hosted by SBS’s Eurovision commentator, host, expert and enthusiast Julia Zemiro.

The artist reveal will be broadcast LIVE on SBS Facebook from 5.30pm. Stay tuned to the SBS Facebook page for updates and a countdown to the announcement moment!

Who will it be? Will a group, male solo, or female solo take the stage?  

Is the song Australians will be belting out in their living rooms an upbeat party anthem, or emotional power ballad? 

All will be revealed… Tuesday 7 March.

The Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals will take place on 9 May and 11 May, with the Grand Final taking place on 13 May 2017.

February 27, 2017 is Clean Monday for all Greek Orthodox people

On Monday, 27th February, the Greek people of Athens will be celebrating ‘Kathari Deftera’, aka Clean Monday, Orthodox Shrove Monday or Ash Monday. It is the first day of Orthodox Christian Great Lent that occurs at the beginning of the 7th week before Easter Sunday. The public holiday will be a day of great celebrations, delicious food and family traditions.

It’s an event to spend with the family where people usually go out in taverns for sea food eating. The food choices for this occasion vary from olives, shrimp, fish, feta cheese, taramosalata (fish roe dip), dry bread and yigandes (baked bean casserole). Octopus grilled over an open flame is a classic Greek meze to serve with ouzo and wine, and a favourite on Clean Monday. (For the less adventurous, fried calamari is a delicious alternative.)

Clean Monday is also considered to mark the first day of spring, Greeks tend to celebrate it with outdoor activities. A favorite place to hang out is Filopappos Hill where you will see many Greek families, young and old, picnicking and flying kites! The hill is situated just opposite the Acropolis and even if you don’t have a kite, the hill offers the most amazing, uninterrupted view of the Acropolis and beyond to Pireaus, Aegina and other neighboring islands (but the kite is highly recommended).

So go out and enjoy this festive event along with your glass of wine and ouzo to the sound of live music provided by the municipality of Athens.

The first President of International Olympic Committee – Demetrius Vikelas

Demetrius Vikelas is a poet and a novelist. His work Loukis Laras is considered to have played a major part in the development of neohellenic literature. He has also joined the organization of the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens and was the first President of the International Olympic Committee.

Vikelas was born in Ermoupoli, February 15th, 1835 on the island of Syros in Greece. His father was a merchant, originally from Veria (then part of the Ottoman Empire, today capital of the northern Greek province of Imathia in Central Macedonia) and his mother, Smaragda, was a member of the rich Melas family. He was educated at home by his mother, possibly due to his fragile health.

When he was six, the family moved to Constantinople, and ten years after that to Odessa. There he started working for his father’s business.

Already he showed signs of his literary potential. At the age of 17 in 1851, he translated Esther, a tragedy by Jean Racine.

In 1852, he traveled to London to receive a professional practice and worked there as an employee and partner of his uncles’ merchant house Melas Brothers (his mother’s family name was Melas).

He started writing poems in 1855 and published them in newspapers and magazines of Athens or submitted them to the University’s poetry contests.

In 1876, the Melas business was closed and Vikelas decided to relocate to Athens and later settled down in the city in 1897.

Except from his scientific works, he was also into charity and community service, with works like the foundation of a club for the spreading of useful books, with George Drosinis in the secretariat in 1899 and he later established the House for the Blind in 1898, the Shooting and Labour School in 1898 and the 1st Education Congress in 1899.

In 1894, he participated in the International Athletic Congress of Paris, after being motivated by the Chairman of the Panhellenic Athletic Club Ioannis Fokianos. He was chosen for this participation as a well known Greek novelist in the European capital cities and also as a notorious lobbyist. The idea of Olympism by Baron de Coubertin and the revival of the Olympic Games as practiced in antiquity was first spread at the congress, as well as the foundation of the International Olympic Committee with Demetrius Vikelas as its first president, who later proposed to organize the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.

With his responsibility for the 1896 Summer Olympics, Vikelas returned to Greece for just ten days in autumn 1894. On October the 14th, he received a telegram from doctor Luys informing him that the condition of his wife had worsened. She had œdemas in her thighs, calves and stomach. She could no longer feed herself. He urgently returned to Paris. It seems that she then died.

In November 1894, a number of young nationalist officers, advocates of the Megali Idea, created a secret society, Ethniki Etairia, whose aim was to revive the morale of the country and prepare the liberation of Greek peoples still under the Ottoman Empire. In September 1895, they recruited civilians, all linked to the organisation of the Olympic Games, including Vikelas himself, although he claimed only to have given in to friendly pressure, playing a solely financial role and then quickly resigning from it. At this point he was still attracted by the possibility of rebuilding his country.

After the Games, which proved a success, Vikelas withdrew from the IOC, replaced as a member by the Count Alexander Mercati and as president by Coubertin. The defeat in the Greco-Turkish War which came soon after dealt a serious blow to his morale. He decided to leave Paris to move permanently to Athens. There he dedicated himself to popular education. In 1899 he founded the “Society for the Spread of Useful Books” in Athens, to help the country to recover from its defeat.

In 1905, he represented the University of Athens at the third Olympic Congress and seventh IOC Meeting in Brussels. He also remained an active member of the Hellenic Olympic Committee. He died in Athens on 20 July 1908 “from an afflicting illness”.

He had been made a knight of the Legion of Honour on 31 December 1891, and honorary doctor of the University of St Andrews in November 1893 (the first Greek to receive this honour). He was a member (from 1874, and Vice-President from 1894 ) of the French “Association for the Promotion of Greek Studies”, and of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies in London.

He left his immense library collection to the city of Heraklion in Crete, founding the Vikelaia Municipal Library.

Though in fact he did not live much of his life in Syros, the island counts him among its most well-known sons. Today, the Sports Center (Stadium) in Ermoupoli bears Demetrios Vikelas’ name. The stadium seats 2000 people, and has an Olympic-size swimming pool, four tennis courts, two gym halls, basket and volleyball courts, track and field, floor football court and soccer field.

Also the Syros Island National Airport is named for him.

Michael Satrazemis, Director of Photography in Walking Dead

Michael Satrazemis is the Director of Photography of the tv series Walking Dead. He has also directed 7 episodes of the successful tv series.
Michael is of Greek descent. He started his career in the entertainment business as a grip on “My Cousin Vinny”, and he transitioned into the camera department soon after. He has been working in the camera department for two decades.

Cinematographer Michael Satrazemis began as a camera operator in season one, before rising to serve as the show’s primary Director of Photography and occasional director in season four. He worked as the “A” Camera Operator on “The Walking Dead”. Camera Operators perform a vital role within the camera department, by supporting the Director of Photography and the Director by accurately carrying out their instructions to achieve their vision.

“There’s going to be a good deal this season, more than we’ve ever seen. It’s great to shoot those. We can put on the widest lens we have and fill it with information — people and walkers. And it’s crazy to see that many walkers. I’ve always been attracted to the show because of the story. So any time we isolate a couple of characters and get to tell the story that’s underneath this comic book, apocalyptic show, that’s fun for me” he said in an interview about season 4 of the “Walking Dead”.

Because of the show’s constantly evolving storylines, Satrazemis notes it’s difficult to plan too far ahead. “’Walking Dead’ in general there’s always some trick to something because we don’t have sets that remain for very long.

“We’re prepping right now for the new season, but I can’t prep for the whole season because there’s going to be a million different things that I don’t even know about. So you wake up every morning and come on in charging.”

The new star in Broadway Constantine Maroulis

Upcoming shows:

March 12 – The Green Room 42 – New York, NY https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10141221

April 29 – Rrazz Room – Philadelphia, PA 

Constantine Maroulis is a very well-known rock singer in the United States mostly of his participation in the show American Idol as well as his solo career. He has also played roles in the Broadway.
Maroulis was born on September 17, 1975 in Brooklyn, United States. Both his maternal and his paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Greece in the 1920s and was brought up in the Greek Orthodox religion.

At the young age of five, he developed an interest in music, following the lead of his older brother, Athan. By the age of eleven, he was already studying the trumpet at Eisenhower Middle School and later sang in high school garage bands, including Lady Rain and Milkbone.

After graduating from Ramapo High School in 1993, he then earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theater from the Boston Conservatory.

 In 2000 he was in the cast of the musical, Suburban Dreams and has also competed on the dating show “Elimidate” and was an extra in NBC’s Law and Order: SVU.

He appeared in a number of off-Broadway roles from the Conservatory, along with a series of independent films. After graduating from the Conservatory, Maroulis trained as an acting apprentice at the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts and toured in the Broadway international touring company of Rent performing the lead role of Roger Davis.

Constantine Maroulis in August 2004 decided to audition for the Television Show “American Idol”. He made some remarkable appearances like his rendition of the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” which earned him the praise of judges, including that of the usually harsh Simon Cowell.

At the personal invitation of Queen’s guitarist Brian May, Maroulis later recorded a studio version of the track for Killer Queen: A Tribute to Queen, which was released on August 9, 2005 on Queen’s label, Hollywood Records.

On April 2005 Maroulis was eliminated from American Idol after he performed Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” during the 2000s music round. After “American Idol” Maroulis was able to find time to record his own very first solo album simply titled “Constantine”.

In 2006 he was part of the cast in his first Broadway leading part of the Tony nominated musical “The Wedding Singer”. Along with the other cast members, he contributed a recording of the Adam Sandler “Hanukkah Song” to the 8th Carols for a Cure CD to help raise funds for the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS organization.

In September 2009, Maroulis launched his “A Night at the Rock Show” series of sold-out solo shows in New York City, featuring “Constantine’s unique interpretations of some of the greatest rock songs of all time”.

From then on Maroulis was mainly involved in acting. He had the role of Drew in the hit Broadway musical “Rock of Ages” in 2009 and on May he received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.

Maroulis headlined the national touring production with the first show opening in Chicago on September 21, 2010 and his last performance was on July 24, 2011 at the National Theatre in Washington, DC.

Maroulis was cast in the lead role of Melvin Ferd the Third, in The Alley Theatre’s production of “The Toxic Avenger”, which performed in Houston, Texas until February 12, 2012 and the same year became the host of a new series on Fuse.tv.com, Unofficial Idol Forum.

In autumn 2012, Maroulis took on the title role(s) in Frank Wildhorn’s “Jekyll and Hyde”, co-starring with Deborah Cox and on July 23, 2014, it was announced that Maroulis would be returning to as Drew at the Helen Hayes Theater till January 18, 2015 which was his last appearance.

Constantine Maroulis and Angel Reed have a daughter, Malena James Reed-Maroulis.

John Varvatos is a famous fashion designer who dresses the famous men of Hollywood

John Varvatos is a famous fashion designer and founder of the design company “John Varvatos” which specializes in menswear.
The Varvatos family is originally from the village of Poulata on the Greek island of Kefalonia. The Greek designer was born in Detroit and grew up in Allen Park.

In 1983, J. Varvatos began working at Polo Ralph Lauren. In 1990, he joined Calvin Klein as the head of department for menswear and managed the launch of men’s line. Five years later, he returned to Ralph Lauren as the design head for menswear for all the brands of the company and introduced the Polo Jeans line. His success led him to new positions inside the company.

In 1999, John Varvatos founded his own company and debuted his first apparel line in New York at the end of 2000. The same year, he opened his first store in SoHo, a New York City neighborhood. In his own words, he designs the line for “a guy who appreciates beautiful fabrics and great details, without being too over-the-top. My philosophy is about reaching back to move forward. I have something different to say with a sensibility that is both old and new”.

Shortly after launching his collection, John Varvatos receives the Council of Fashion Designers of America Perry Ellis Award for New Menswear Designer.

For the second year in a row, in 2001, J. Varvatos is presented with an award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, this time for Menswear Designer of the Year.

In September 2001, Varvatos’ collaboration with Converse gets off to a wildly successful start. The collection respects Converse’s century-long heritage but is totally transformed by Varvatos’ unique vision and urban-rocker sensibility.

In March 2004, he launched his first fragrance for men. The cologne was called “John Varvatos Classic”. The fragrance collection has since grown to include “Vintage”, “Artisan”, “Artisan Black” and the “10th Anniversary Limited Edition”.

A year later, in 2005, the Greek designer received a second Council of Fashion Designers of America “Menswear Designer of the Year Award”, and in 2007 in GQ’s “Men of the Year” issue, John Varvatos is named Designer of the Year.

Store at Bowery Street 315, New York

Bottle of John Varvatos VINTAGE


The Greek vampire Theodore Zoumboulidis of True Blood

Theodore Zoumboulidis, best known as Theo Alexander, is a Greek actor, who gained worldwide popularity with his role in the feature film El Greco and the television series True Blood.

Zoumboulidis was born in 1981 in Athens and used to reside at Glyfada. His family’s origins are from Istanbul and Mani.

Since his early age, he had always been looking for any opportunity to play a role even in school theatre performances. He later studied Business Management at the Boston University before studying acting at the Circle in the Square School in New York. His dream to become an actor forced him to stay in the United States. He currently lives in Los Angeles, the heart of world cinema.

In 2007, he played the role of Manousos in El Greco and has also appeared in CSI NY, Pushing Daisies and Chuck, where he played the role of a Greek mafioso.

“About the role of Chuck, I called my brother. He said, “Listen man, if you don’t book the job and he’s a Greek guy, just come back”.

In 2010, Theo Alexander played the role of Talbot in True Blood, adding to his popularity and fans. During the same year, he also landed in the list of The 12 Most Handsome Greek Men and in 2013 he appeared at the Berlin Festival for the film Meteora.

%d bloggers like this: