Arts / ‘Snap. snap, snap’ and the Portrait Gallery’s got the shot

“The Dance - David McAllister,” 2016, by Peter Brew-Bevan, inkjet print, National Portrait Gallery, Commissioned with funds provided by The Stuart Leslie Foundation.

“The Dance – David McAllister”, 2016, by Peter Brew-Bevan, inkjet print, National Portrait Gallery, Commissioned with funds provided by the Stuart Leslie Foundation.

COMING face to face with one’s own portrait can be a bit breathtaking, as artistic director of The Australian Ballet, David McAllister, found this morning when the National Portrait Gallery  unveiled a dramatic new  portrait created by Australian photographer, Peter Brew-Bevan showing him enveloped by dancers in full flight.

“It was very quick – snap snap snap,” McAllister told those present in a brief Q&A with NPG director Angus Trumble and Brew-Bevan, who admitted that when he snapped McAllister standing in darkness, he “didn’t know how it would come out”.

“Taking compositional inspiration from Matisse’s ‘The Dance’ I wanted to create a portrait that not only represented David as the widely respected creative genius I knew but also as the Zen-like person that I discovered upon meeting him and working with,” Brew-Bevan said, referring to his “original concept of David as a central figure surrounded by beautiful choreographed fury representing his incredible performances.”

Brew-Bevan, McAllister and Trumble in conversation

Brew-Bevan, McAllister and Trumble in conversation

Brew-Bevan is known for his creative style of photographic portraiture which captures the essence of his subjects through his use of lighting and location, coupled with his ability to engage and communicate with his subjects.

McAllister started his career with The Australian Ballet in 1983 and was quickly promoted to Principal Artist in 1989. In July 2001 he became the artistic director of the flagship baller company, the position he currently holds today. Most recently he has brought the epic ballet “Nijinsky” to the stage.

Anca Frankenhaeuser, Patrick Harding-Irmer, Julia Cotton and Elle Cahill

Anca Frankenhaeuser, Patrick Harding-Irmer, Julia Cotton and Elle Cahill

This commission was made possible through the support of the Stuart Leslie Foundation, represented this morning and by Norma Leslie and NPG director Trumble’s own brother Simon, coincidentally chairman of the foundation, which also backed the commissioning of an accompanying dance performance, choreographed by Anca Frankenhaeuser, Patrick Harding-Irmer, Julia Cotton and Elle Cahill and soon to be seen by the public at the NPG.

Comprised of four dances, “Dances for David” is inspired by McAllister’s career and an exploration of the dance medium, with allusions to McAllister’s favourite ballet works.

“The Dance – David McAllister,” will be on public view  from Tuesday, October 11, alongside dance and ballet themed portraits from the collection.

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