Portrait of a young Aussie, Matuse Peace, 2016 by John McRae

image of Portrait of a young Aussie, Matuse Peace 2016 by John McRae

Artist's statement

This is a portrait of Matuse, a young Australian man, taken in my studio. I gave him a bag full of clothing and asked if he would select a ‘costume’ to put on. In this portrait in simple Arab dress, I intentionally depict Matuse as a metaphor for certain prejudices and negative attitudes, conscious or unconscious, that our society at times has been conditioned to project. Here, I have purposely imposed such terms as ‘radical’ and ‘fundamental’ onto my willing subject, a young man who normally goes about in jeans and a t-shirt. Matuse is of Middle Eastern descent, and is a practising Muslim. He confronts the camera with openness, calmness and stillness. For him, the clothing is merely fabric, and not a signifier of any political stance or pretext. He also remains an honest young Aussie.