John McRae (b. Horsham, Victoria, 1960) is a Sydney based fine art photographer renowned for his intimate portraits including his longitudinal study of the Olympic gold-medal diver Matthew Mitcham. McRae has an established background as a commercial photographer specialising in fashion, portraiture and corporate photography. His work has been exhibited extensively throughout Australia as well as internationally including shows in New York, Paris, Berlin and Rome. He has been selected for a number of prestigious portrait and photography prizes including The Moran Contemporary Portrait Prize and The Josephine Ulrick Win Schubert Photography Award. His portrait of Margaret Olley in her Paddington studio was voted the People’s Choice Winner in the 2012 National Portrait Prize. McRae’s work explores the subject of the male gaze in order to address issues relating to gender, sexuality and physical attraction. ‘Lip Service’ a solo exhibition of recent photographs curated by Jonathan Turner runs at the ACAF Art Terminal, St Leonards, Sydney until May 7th. Further information is available at https://johnmcrae.com and https://acaf.org.au/.
John McRae: Meat
Solo exhibition of recent photographs Curated by Jonathan Turner
May 12-June 12, 2014
The male gaze is a minefield, and Sydney photographer John McRae uses this theme to question issues of gender, sexuality and physical attraction. Best known for his hard-hitting portraiture, McRae presents Lip Service, a solo show as part of the inaugural exhibition at the new ACAF Art Terminal.
The show includes portraits of dancers, athletes and models spot-lit against dark backgrounds, taken in Malta, Beirut, Tel Aviv, Rome, New York and Sydney. In this era of visual short-cuts and commercial exploitation, McRae realizes that the objectification of the male form can go both ways. He sometimes mixes his portraits with religious symbolism and photographs of meat displayed in markets. This is part of his clear message regarding our current attitudes towards “the sins of the flesh” versus the spiritual short-hand of instant intolerance often proposed by opposing religions.
Lip Service also features recent images of McRae’s long-time collaborator, the Olympic gold-medal diver Matthew Mitcham. For eight years, McRae has been documenting Mitcham’s development from an uncertain youth to a self-confident, international sportsman. Mitcham reveals himself to be an accomplished actor, flexible in both his poses and his projected emotions.
The atmosphere in McRae’s photography is purposely heightened. His work spans staged photography and sequential narrative, as represented by his brand-new, eye-catching multiple pictures. This includes Lip-Service - Diego, a grid of close- ups showing a handsome Italian fitness-trainer making a series of over- exaggerated facial expressions. Diego re-enacts many emotions – from “Surprise”, to “Joy”, to “Confusion”, to “Anger”. It is as though the viewer is lip-reading the passionate conversation of an overly expressive Italian man, trapped in an eternal passport-photo booth.