Personal memento mori wins Moran Portrait Prize - Art Collector

Michael Zavros, Phoebe is Dead/McQueen, 2010. Courtesy: the artist

17 August 2010 | This year's Doug Moran National Portrait Prize has been awarded to painter Michael Zavros for a gentle portrait of his young daughter Phoebe playing dead beneath the shroud of a skull-patterned scarf.

It has already been dubbed the "Creepy Dad Prize" by ArtInfo but as Zavros explains: "Until I became a parent I didn't fear death. Now as I wait for sleep in the dark of night I am visited by visions of my children befalling some tragedy and being taken from me. And so now I fear death.

"This painting confronts the unthinkable as though the very act of painting it could somehow prevent it. Painted to exact life size in tiny precious detail, this is a personal mement mori."

The Queensland-based painter, who was a runner up in last year's prize, was selected from a field including Adam Cullen, Annette Bezor, Ben Smith, Dagmar Cyrulla, Ben Quilty, Giles Alexander and Daniel Butterworth.

For the second year running, Dean Sewell has won the $80,000 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize. The Sydney-based artist, who is a member of the Oculi collective, was selected for his black and white photograph titled
Cockatoo Is. Ferry.

Jane O'Sullivan