Michael Zavros portraits of Ben Roberts-Smith go on display

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Two portraits of Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG have been added to the Australian War Memorial’s collection.

The portraits, unveiled today, were painted by renowned Australian artist Michael Zavros. They represent two different views of Roberts-Smith: one in his formal uniform, the other larger than life-size in combat stance.

Zavros said he was honoured to receive the commission from the Australian War Memorial and to spend time with such a remarkable person as Roberts-Smith, who is a much admired and heroic figure for many Australians.

“The portraits are contrasting views of Ben – one small and static, the other larger than life and dynamic,” he said. “In the small formal portrait we see him momentarily isolated, less the brave war hero, at one with himself in a moment of reflection. By contrast, the larger work offers a moment of tense action, suspended.”

The Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, welcomed the new additions to the Memorial’s portrait collection of Victoria Cross recipients.

“We are very pleased to update our Victoria Cross portraits with such exceptional and important works by Michael Zavros,” Dr Nelson said.

“As well as commemorating these individuals through our collection, we want to explore the motivation and the skills involved in their acts of bravery. Ben Roberts-Smith is no different. His achievements and vibrant personality are perfectly captured in these paintings.

“The Australian War Memorial commissioned Michael Zavros to create Roberts-Smith’s portrait due to the artist’s contemporary style and sustained focus on men as a theme. His work was well placed for representing Roberts-Smith’s larger-than-life presence and military achievements.”

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia while operating in Afghanistan. On his fifth tour of Afghanistan Roberts-Smith, who already held the Medal for Gallantry, received the Victoria Cross for his actions during an assault on the village of Tizak in Kandahar province in June 2010.

The portraits will be on display in the Memorial’s Courtyard Gallery for a limited time. Roberts-Smith’s medals and uniform are also on display in the Memorial’s Hall of Valour.

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