Zavros wants to party like it’s 1400 BC.

Will there be wild orgies? “I’ll organize it for you later,” promises visual artist Micheal Zavros.

Raise the Roof – Dionysus Redux hosted by Zavros at Lina on the South Shore of Brisbane, will be “transformed into a modern hedonistic Mykonos and festival of Dionysus”.

“We have six rooftop parties as final events marking the end of the Brisbane Festival and mine has become very important,” adds Zarvos.

Zarvos brought together Legs on the Wall, a local Greek opera singer, nude models and Alex Dimitriades as a DJ.

“I wanted something decadent like the ancient Greek parties that pushed boundaries and was transgressive and very liberal,” he says.

The Dionysian feasts broke the architecture of power for a preliminary period. Women celebrated alongside men and slaves became masters. Sex was welcome.

“I like liberation, we say we live in progressive times, but we have become conservative.”

Zavros’ work is a timely antidote to the crude censorship that has occupied our culture and our media.

Beauty has its place in his cabinet. The visual artist has a work created over the last fifteen years composed of beautiful objects, men and women, powerful majestic horses, and even elegant memento mori sculptures. His work is charged with irony aimed at the beautiful emptiness of modern elites.

His images are weighed down by saturated colors – it’s Renaissance meets Vogue.

Visual artist Michael Zavros. Photo: Supplied

Zavros plays with eroticism and mystique, and the promise of decadence. Images and sculptures give a glimpse of what can happen behind closed doors with a touch of narcissistic malevolence. A welcome danger.

“I like to look at beautiful things and I create things that I like to look at, but there is a retreat in contemporary art towards what is beautiful but insists on being critical.

“It’s easy to pillory beauty,” he says.

“A lot of contemporary society is about narcissism emerging from social media, so we’re very critical of these things, and beauty has become the victim, it’s under fire.”

Zavros has always been an aesthete. “Ever since I was little, I’ve loved beautiful things, and the obsession with youth and beauty is as old as the Greeks, there’s no shame.”

The new shame and prudishness, he says, stem in part from “mass consumerism and the many problems plaguing contemporary society”.

“We are now restricting freedoms – it’s funny how striving to be diverse or striving for equality has actually restricted freedom.”

A new generation thinks it’s doing something progressive, according to Zavros, by “marking out territory for different minority groups.”

“These bands have always had a certain territory, but now we put frames around everything.”

Man 2009 Oil on canvas 210 cm x 167 cm. Photo: Supplied

Anglosphere and European criticism of the Greek ideal of beauty and eros gave rise to a fierce aversion to Hellenic aesthetics.

The Greeks never sought to be an ideal, they were very aware of the human condition – idealized beauty was not accessible to humans. Adonis, Athena, Achilles were the ideals – and they were gods or demigods. There is no idealized version of Socrates in ancient Greek sculpture. We see him as he was, bald and stocky.

“I make my own ancient Greek connections, and they’re central to my practice,” says Zavros.

As it became established, it reflected more of its Greek heritage. “I’m drawn to certain classic ideals of ancient Greek history and mythology.”

The assumptions of Anglo-European elites in the past created an idealized fantasy of Greece and stimulated European notions of white supremacy, when in fact the ancient Greeks had no concept of race and color.

Ancient Athens or Corinth are so far away from us now that all we can do is imagine. New evidence has emerged which suggests that the Greeks were much more Asian and that their statues were more like those of ancient Memphis or Varanasi.

The Sunbather 2015, Oil on canvas, 180 x 180cm, Newcastle Art Gallery collection. Photo: Supplied

Zavros’ mother is Australian and his father a Cypriot who arrived in Australia when he was five years old.

Zavros is aware of racism as a Greek migrant child raised on the Gold Coast. “I was surrounded by blonde-haired, blue-eyed surfer types, and they were the ideals I had.”

“I was brown growing up, and then at some point those in the diversity industry started thinking of us as privileged and white.”

Now Michael Zervas wants to party hard. His panegyric homage to Dionysus, the god of libertine excess and wine is a necessary stand against security and boredom.

Lina’s rooftop will be a hedonistic safe zone, a conduit between ancient Greece and modern Mykonos. Eros, madness, wine and theatre. Orgies? Maybe not.

For more on Dionysus Redux Michagot go to www.brisbanefestival.com.au/whats-on/2022/raise-the-roof-dionysus-redux

Zavros’ view of Dionysian festivals. Photo: Michael Zavros/Facebook

Comments are closed.