Drowned Mercedes


The exhibition ‘Michael Zavros: The Favourite’ featured the ambitious new sculpture Drowned Mercedes 2023 (illustrated), for which Michael Zavros has filled the cabin of a classic 1990s Mercedes-Benz SL convertible with water.

Michael Zavros ‘Drowned Mercedes’ 2023

Installation view ‘Michael Zavros: The Favourite’, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane 2023 / Drowned Mercedes 2023 / Found car, resin, steel, water / 129.3 x 181.2 x 449.9cm / © Michael Zavros / Photographs: J Ruckli & C Callistemon © QAGOMA

The most immediate interpretation might be that the car has been ruined through neglect, vandalism or an unusual brand of self-destruction, invoking the idea that you cannot truly appreciate something until it is lost. Yet this creative act could equally be read as just this: a creative act. With his characteristic calculated humour and sense of absurdity, Zavros transforms the coveted vehicle into a reflection pool.

Reflections of the artist such as Zavros’s Narcissus-themed self-portraits V12/Narcissus 2009 (illustrated) and Bad dad 2013 (illustrated) are arguably his most iconic works. Their impeccable, seductive surfaces reward close attention, while intelligently updating the ancient Greek myth about the love of self and love of others.

Zavros, however, is largely ambivalent about moral interpretations of his work. From this perspective, the images are more about acknowledging our persistent appetites than critiquing consumerism and excess.

Michael Zavros ‘V12/Narcissus’ 2009

Michael Zavros, Australia b.1974 / V12/Narcissus 2009 / Oil on board / 20 x 29.5cm / Collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales – Gift of the artist 2013. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / © Michael Zavros

Michael Zavros ‘Bad Dad’ 2013

Michael Zavros, Australia b.1974 / Bad dad 2013 / Oil on canvas / 110 x 150cm / Purchased 2016 with funds raised through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation Appeal / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Michael Zavros

Watch | Michael Zavros discusses his practice

The 208-page exhibition publication Michael Zavros: The Favourite is available at QAGOMA Stores or online.

Michael Zavros: The Favourite‘ in 1.1 (The Fairfax Gallery) and 1.2 was at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane from 24 June to 2 October 2023. This exhibition offered opportunities for dialogue with ‘eX de Medici: Beautiful Wickedness’ presented in the adjacent gallery 1.2 and 1.3 (Eric and Marion Taylor Gallery).

Featured image: Michael Zavros with Drowned Mercedes 2023 at ‘Michael Zavros: The Favourite’, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane / © Michael Zavros / Photograph: David Kelly