A photographic portrait of the Australian Ballet chief, inspired by Matisse’s Dance, was unveiled in Canberra today.

A newly commissioned portrait of Australian Ballet Artistic Director David McAllister was unveiled this morning at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. The photographic print by Adelaide-born, Sydney-based photographer Peter Brew-Bevan will join the Gallery’s national collection.

The Dance – David McAllister 2016 by Peter Brew-Bevan (b.1969). Inkjet print. Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

A former dancer with the Australian Ballet, McAllister has been Artistic Director of the Company since 2001. “Having been to the Gallery so many times and been inspired by the extraordinary Australians who inhabit the walls of the National Portrait Gallery, I feel incredibly honoured and privileged to be there among them in such a beautiful portrait by the extraordinary artist Peter Brew-Bevan,” said McAllister.

Brew-Bevan is known for his creative style of photographic portraiture. Drawing on a fine art background, his images have a painterly quality. Over the years, he has produced an impressive portfolio of portraits of prominent Australian actors, sports people, celebrities and fashion designers. His subjects have included Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Katie Noonan, Bob Hawke, Julia Gillard and Ian Thorpe to name but a few.

Brew-Bevan said he believed he had captured McAllister’s career and passion for dance in the portrait. “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 him. From the original concept of David as a central figure surrounded by beautiful choreographed fury representing his incredible performances, as the shoot progressed my attention was drawn to David’s focus on the rings on his right hand. After uncovering the story/meaning behind the ring, I knew that this needed to be the moment that captured David as a grounded figure in amongst his work,” said Brew-Bevan.

“I have always admired David’s creativity and in the lead up to, and on the day of shooting, the ease of the collaboration and meeting of minds flowed seamlessly through to each individual capture that have merged to create the final portrait. It was truly one of the most amazing and refreshingly creative and effortless shoots that I have had the pleasure of producing.”

In a first, the Gallery has also commissioned an accompanying dance piece choreographed and performed by Anca Frankenhaeuser, Patrick Harding-Irmer, Julia Cotton and Elle Cahill. Titled Dance for David, it comprises four works inspired by McAllister’s career. Dances for David was performed at today’s unveiling of the portrait and will be performed for the public in Gordon Darling Hall on October 15, 16, 29 and 30 at 1pm and 3pm. Bookings are not necessary.

Both the commissioning of the portrait and the accompanying dance work were made possible with funds provided by the Stuart Leslie Foundation. Members of the public can view the portrait from October 11 alongside other dance and ballet themed portraits from the NPG collection.

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