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Indifference is death: Michael Galovic on the art of engagement in his work with Marists

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Artist Michael Galovic photographed on 16 March 2016 with his wife, Silvia. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Michael Galovic isn’t interested in playing it safe and neither, evidently, are the Marists who have commissioned the Central Coast iconographer and painter again and again over the past twenty-one years, resulting in works at once reverent and penetrating.

It’s the way art is meant to be, Mr Galovic told Marist brothers and principals at the 16 March launch of Galovic and the Marists, an illustrated book commemorating the relationship, with commentary by Br Michael Green FMS.

“(As an artist) you must try to dig out things from yourself, things you never knew existed – that you are incapable of,” Mr Galovic told the gathering.

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Michael Galovic and his icon of Mary Aikenhead, founder of the Sisters of Charity. PHOTO: Supplied

“It can be so powerful – aesthetically, artistically, spiritually – that it engages the viewer, that it starts the dialogue.

“The questions (then) come: why is it like this and why not like that? Anything, brothers, anything but indifference is good.”

The Yugoslavia-born Galovic has been constantly re-creating and re-imagining his craft for the past 47 years, the last 27 spent in Australia.

His work now adorns Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches and colleges throughout Australia, and further afield.

As a corpus, it is an amalgam of, on the one hand, traditional icon painting – sometimes called writing – in which 90 per cent of a work might be copied from earlier antecedents – and on the other, more conceptual works that pursue abstract depiction where purely illustrative modes might prove insufficient.

Marist provincial Br Peter Carroll spoke of the book, and of Michael Galovic’s work more generally, as a confluence of “Athens and Jerusalem” – of the cerebral and the visceral.

‘Galovic and the Marists’: A retrospective of Michael Galovic’s artistic commissions for the Marists. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“Beauty is something that we all aspire to, particularly these days when the situation in our world is so difficult and so fraught,” Br Carroll said.

“Most of all … it’s in the goodness of God. There (in Michael Galovic’s art) is an invitation to meet the God that we all aspire to.”

Speaking at Marist Brothers HQ in Mascot to a gathering that largely consisted of Marist Principals from throughout Australia, Br Carroll recounted the prescriptive longing of the Russian novelist and journalist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, that “beauty will save the world.”

“That beauty is captured here: it’s captured in the lives of Marists; it’s captured in our founders; and it’s captured in the people.”

Galovic and the Marists is $20 + postage and packaging, and is available from Michael Galovic at [email protected]

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