The joy of coincidence – similar pose, different continent


Ceramic figure by Dutch artist Frans Franciscus, 2021

Sometimes in the art world, coincidences can be a great joy. I just received an invitation to a solo presentation of new ceramic sculptures by Dutch artist Frans Franciscus (www.fransfranciscus.nl), showing one of his elongated, nude figures. Franciscus has posed his male subject upside-down, like a naked totem. Immediately I was reminded of one of my own works, a surreal portrait of Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham. In my photograph taken in Sydney ten years ago, Matt poses in his diving trunks, balanced on his hands in the abandoned rail yards at Lilyfield.

John McRae, Matthew Mitcham, Lilyfield, 2011

The silhouette and mood are very similar in both of our works. Franciscus says he “combines or re-arranges compositions of old masters depicting biblical stories in an up-to-date and idiosyncratic fashion.” Using sculpture, paintings, drawings and photographs, his art tackles racism, discrimination and social discomfort. I sometimes do the same thing in my photographs. Frans Franciscus, who is also a great friend of my mate the Dutch artist Erwin Olaf, will be featured in “This Art Fair” to be held at the Kromhouthal in Amsterdam, August 26-29, 2021, with seven new sculptures presented in his solo called as “Clay Only”. Inspired by medieval and Renaissance painting, Surrealism, religious iconography and classical mythology, Franciscus’ artwork always tries to create space for a broader view on humankind.

My portrait photograph of Matt was taken in the industrial area still “under development for the West Connex”, at the site next to the Lilyfield light rail, from where you can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was taken as part of a fashion shoot that I was staging for the Australian label “Gossip”.  I had decided to incorporate different narratives into the fashion shots … to that end I enlisted “extras” to appear in the backgrounds. Matt, who at the time lived nearby, was included as part of this concept. 

John McRae, Fashion shoot for Gossip Couture, 2011

This was only three years after Matt had won his gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in the 10-metre diving event, with what is still the highest-scoring single dive in Olympic history.  My photos were taken in March, 2011.

MMXX – Matthew Mitcham Annual Portrait

MMXX

Pigment inkjet on cotton rag, 112cm x 78cm, Edition of 9, (2AP)


Since 2008, every year I have taken an “official” annual portrait photograph of Matthew Mitcham, Australia’s gold-medal Olympic diver, award-winning cabaret performer and television entertainer, in my studio in Sydney.

Facing the camera with a direct, unflinching manner, each consecutive portrait is added to the growing series of similar portraits, which commenced when Matthew was only 20 years old, before his rise to Olympic fame.

Each portrait is taken under similar conditions, plotting the changes in his physical appearance and growing self-assurance. This particular 2020 portrait marks a bumpy year for all of us, facing the pandemic. It is only fitting Matthew is masked and “Covid-safe” for this one. MMXX marks the 13th portrait and the 13th year in this ongoing series.

I thank Matt for his support in continuing this series, in allowing a very public view of his “personal time-line”. Matt married Luke just over a year ago in Belgium I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to photograph their wedding (see blog post: Matthew Mitcham Marries). They spent a good part of 2020 here in Australia but only a few days ago Matt and Luke have left our shores for the UK.

The complete sequence can be seen at :

https://www.johnmcrae.com/exhibition-work/annual-matthew-mitcham-portraits/ 

The series is printed by the artist in an edition of 9, with 2 artist proofs, and is available for purchase.

Contact John McRae mb: 0419619161 e: john@johnmcrae.com

Matthew Mitcham MMXVIII

MMXVIII
Pigment Inkjet on Cotton Rag, 112cm x 80cm
Edition of 9 (2AP)
John McRae, 2018

Every year I photograph Matthew Mitcham, Australia’s gold-medal Olympic diver, award-winning cabaret performer and television entertainer, in my studio. This portrait is added to a series of similar portraits, one taken every year, which commenced in 2008, before his rise to Olympic fame.

Each portrait is taken under similar conditions. MMXVIII marks the 11th portrait and the 11th year of this ongoing series.

Thank you Matt for your support in continuing this series, in allowing a very public view of your “personal time-line”. I am still wondering if you will ever age?

The complete sequence can be seen at
https://www.johnmcrae.com/exhi…/annual-matthew-mitcham-portraits/

The series is printed by the artist in an edition of 9, with 2 artist proofs, and is available for purchase.

Contact: John McRae mb: 0419 619 161 e: john@johnmcrae.com w: www.johnmcrae.com

MMXVI – Matthew Mitcham Annual Portrait

It’s that time of year again……..

MMXVI
Pigment inkjet on cotton rag, 112cm 80cm
Edition of 9, 2AP

 

MMXVI – Matthew Mitcham Annual Portrait

Every year I photograph Matthew Mitcham, Australia’s gold-medal Olympic diver, award-winning cabaret performer and television entertainer, in my studio.

Each portrait is taken under similar conditions. MMXVI marks the 9th portrait and the 9th year of this ongoing series.

Will Matthew Mitcham ever age…is the question on my mind?

The complete sequence can be seen at
https://www.johnmcrae.com/exhi…/annual-matthew-mitcham-portraits/

The series is printed by the artist in an edition of 9, with 2 artist proofs, and is available for purchase.

Contact: John McRae mb: 0419 619 161 e: john@johnmcrae.com w: www.johnmcrae.com

Matthew Mitcham 2014 Portrait

The end of the year is fast approaching and I’m confronting last minute jobs to be done, absolutely before the end of the year.  Rationally, I know it’s just another day….but there’s this burning urge to finish certain tasks, leaving them in the year 2014, so that I may have a clean slate to start the New Year, a fresh.

One of those matters is the annual portrait of Matthew Mitcham.  I have been documenting Matthew for quite a few years now, almost 9.  Wow, how time flies!  At some point in the year I ask Matt to sit for a formal portrait for the purpose of adding a new image to the line up.

This portrait takes the form of a cropped head shot.  It is shot in a similar fashion each year, without being clinically precise in it’s recreation as I want to leave a small margin for variation and creative interpretation. So a few days before the New Year I am releasing the 2014 version of this series (pictured below).  For the whole series see the main web site under the tab, “Exhibition”.

 

 

MMXIV

MMXIV, 2014, Pigment inkjet on cotton rag, 112cm x 78cm, Edition of 9 (2AP)


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