As a series, Playing the game! offers an insightful glimpse into Australia’s modern sporting culture, but it also consititues a sophisticated consideration of portraiture’s role in self-defininition and the complexity of contemporary identity politics.
This collection of portraits re-addresses the visual history of sport in Australia and reflects on those (non-professionals) who practice and embrace it.
Sport looms large in Australia’s psyche. It is played, observed, idealized. Our collective subconscious is saturated with sports imagery; from illustrations of heroic sportsmen on army recruitment posters to the instantly recongisable faces of today’s sports celebrities on milk cartons and television advertisments. Anne Zahalka’s latest body of work, draws on, and re-invents, this rich visual history. Playing the game! was initially inspired by the “pub paintings” of the 1930s – 1960s, which depicted archetypeal portraits of sportsmen. Usually accompanied by the tag-line “After the Game”, these colourful paintings were used in suburban and regional NSW pubs to advertise beer.