‘The paintings are emotionally charged through their seriousness and starkness.’
Darrel Couturier Couturier Gallery, Los Angeles
Australia’s great rugby star, now actor, Ian Roberts, was the central subject in this series. When I was painting these works, Ian was close to making his homosexuality public. It was 1995, and when he did, it attracted considerable media attention internationally. I remember feeling moved and inspired when Ian told me about the hundreds of letters he received from men thanking him for giving them the courage and inspiration to come out. Ian was the first famous gay role model I was to paint.
The paintings’ settings I created, imagining theatre sets, and blurring the distinction between what is real and what is not. Ambiguous, like sexuality – we can’t know for sure – don't judge a book by its cover. In celebration of Ian’s newfound iconic status, I elevated him in each painting, lit with theatrical spotlights.