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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Portrait of a young Aussie, Matuse Peace, 2016

by John McRae

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 Finalist

This is a portrait of Matuse, a young Australian man, taken in my studio. I gave him a bag full of clothing and asked if he would select a ‘costume’ to put on. In this portrait in simple Arab dress, I intentionally depict Matuse as a metaphor for certain prejudices and negative attitudes, conscious or unconscious, that our society at times has been conditioned to project. Here, I have purposely imposed such terms as ‘radical’ and ‘fundamental’ onto my willing subject, a young man who normally goes about in jeans and a t-shirt. Matuse is of Middle Eastern descent, and is a practising Muslim. He confronts the camera with openness, calmness and stillness. For him, the clothing is merely fabric, and not a signifier of any political stance or pretext. He also remains an honest young Aussie.

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2017

Other NPPP photos from John McRae

Gender not specified, 2010 by John McRae
NPPP 2011 Finalist
Portrait of Margaret Olley in her Paddington studio, 2011 by John McRae
NPPP 2012 People's Choice Award
Glitter and colour on the streets of Erskineville, 2015 by John McRae
NPPP 2016 Finalist

Related information

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2017

Previous exhibition, 2017

The exhibition is selected from a national field of entries, reflecting the distinctive vision of Australia's aspiring and professional portrait photographers and the unique nature of their subjects.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency