PHOTOS: Olympic Diver Matthew Mitcham Is A Real Work Of Art

It’s not enough that out Australian diver Matthew Mitcham has a body like a Greek statue—the Olympic athlete had his likeness captured by artist Ross Watson, who placed him likeness inside renditions of classic works by Caravaggio, Ricci and other masters. One of Watson’s paintings of Mitcham is on view in Australia’s esteemed National Portrait Gallery.

Now you can have a piece of Matthew (metaphorically) and help a good cause: From now until the London Games end on August 12, Watson is donating 20% of the sales of this series toward helping finance Mitcham’s Olympic dream. The works, giclee print on archival torchon paper, are numbered and hand-signed by the artist and range in prince from $660 to $1400. And if you buy one, you’re automatically entered to win a piece signed by Mitcham himself.

Click through for more images of Matthew Mitcham by Ross Watson

For details visit the Ross Watson Gallery website

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  • Analog

    I so hope he wins Gold at the London Olympics.

  • John

    Why does gay “art” have to be so cliche? Jeezus.

  • Wholly Mary

    @John: As my mother always said, “You’d complain if you were hung with a new rope”

  • Aquarelle

    Ugh, he’s not cute enough to win. I hope someone hotter gets the gold.

  • Martin

    I always thought diving was most intresting olympic sport…

  • jack

    I have the perfect museum in which to display this work of art, its My House.

  • Oh well

    He is cute, but this “art” is an embarrassment of epic proportions :)

  • Will

    I like the combination of classic, oh-so-serious fine art with what looks like a Grindr pic (top right). It’s tongue in cheek.

  • JP

    I hope he will win big at the Olympic. Good luck Matthew!

  • Alex Sarmiento

    He is already an Olympic champion. Four years ago in Beijing, he won the 10m platform title on the penultimate day of the Olympics. In doing so, he thwarted a Chinese sweep of all eight diving gold medals on offer (and China is the dominant force in diving, mainly because almost all its athletes are trained by the government and are thin as fuck, compared to the more muscular appearances of Western divers like Matthew, who have to work ten times harder with almost no support). He scored 112.10 on his final dive, the most points ever scored on any dive in Olympic diving history. He is also, to my knowledge, the first openly gay athlete in Olympic history to win an INDIVIDUAL Olympic gold medal (a few gay men and lesbians, out or otherwise, have won Olympic gold in team events).

  • Blake

    @Aquarelle: WTF? Please provide a link to a picture of you.

  • Sohobod

    Really terrible ‘art’.
    The painter has obviously photographed the swimmer and then slavishly copied the photographs. What’s the point? Carravaggio would be turning in his grave if he knew that his paintings were being used as a backdrop to this rubbish. He brought something of himself to the party. This is just mechanical and dead. Soft porn for people who are easily impressed.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @Aquarelle: So performance, talent, dedication and sheer grit mean nothing, just good looks? You’re an asshole. And he happens to be very adorable, while you, irrespective of whatever your exterior looks, will always be ugly souled. Yep, asshole.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @John: You act as though this is the only gay “art”? Ever hear of Warhol or Michaelangelo? Or the thousands and thousands of others? Expand your horizons John, there is so much to see and enjoy.

  • Sohobod

    @The Real Mike in Asheville

    Warhol and Michaelangelo created ‘art’. They didn’t create ‘gay art’. They were artists who happened to be gay. That’s the difference.
    This guy is a the worst kind of fraud, who panders to naff gay people who want to live in a ‘gay bubble’ and wouldn’t recognise a good painting if it bit them on the arse.

  • Analog

    @Sohobod: Warhol and Michaelangelo created ‘art’. They didn’t create ‘gay art’. They were artists who happened to be gay. That’s the difference.”

    Lol, you are joking???

  • Sohobod

    If your surgeon happens to be gay, is his surgery ‘gay’?
    Is the Mona Lisa a ‘gay’ painting because Leonard da Vinci was gay?
    Ross Watson’s ‘art’ simply panders to people who want pictures of semi-naked guys on their walls; but they want to pretend it’s ‘art’. It’s not. It’s a money-making venture aimed at those gulliable and naff enough to want to fall for it and waste their money.
    Buy one of Watson’s painting and then take it to Christies and ask them to value it. See what answer you get.

  • Analog

    @Sohobod: First of all, the value an auction house like Christie’s may place on a work is hardly indicative of its value as a true work of art. As you may be aware, there are many painters who are now widely considered great artists and whose works now fetch vast sums of money amongst the collectors whose personal taste you clearly respect, who in their own time could barely sell their works for enough money to pay for food.
    Similarly, there are many artists who are currently considered to be of value who may well be forgotten as time passes – this happens in the art world all the time and many artists who were once considered great by collectors and whose works commanded huge sums in auction houses, have long since been forgotten.
    As an aside, one of Ross Watson’s paintings of Matthew Mitcham is currently on view at Australia’s National Portrait Gallery; as mentioned in the article above…
    Secondly, a work of art is about personal expression and the reaction to a work or art is extremely personal. Neither of which has much in common with the arena a surgeon would work in, so your analogy is a little misleading.
    Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean an artist’s work is all about personal self-expression.
    Much of what Warhol did, for example, might not be considered “personal expression”.
    But to claim that Warhol didn’t create ‘gay art’ is inaccurate, just as it’s inaccurate to claim that Warhol’s sexuality was irrelevant to his work.
    The impact that growing up gay and being gay will have on all of us is vast and incalculable.
    The way we see the world will be profoundly influenced by the fact we are gay.
    To claim it is an irrelevance – particularly when it comes to artists and writers, whose work is very personal – is very short-sighted, it seems to me.
    You may as well say: a gay artist is not a gay artist at all but an artist who happens to be gay, but he isn’t a male artist either, he’s a human being who happens to be male who happens to be gay who happens to be an artist, but he isn’t a human artist either, he’s an artist who just happens to be human, etc etc… well, you instantly reach a point where nothing about the artist in question – or, indeed, any artist or anyone at all, for that matter – is relevant at all.
    No one who is gay “just happens to be” gay. It’s as relevant as their gender and their humanity on how they perceive the world, how they interact with the world, how the world interacts with them and how they reflect the world.

    Finally, why are men who want to buy a painting of a naked man or semi-naked man “naff”?
    Much of the so-called religious art that Michelangelo or Da Vinci created was very much driven by an erotic undercurrent, and the only reason it wasn’t overt is perhaps because of the social constraints on gay expression in their own time…

  • mc

    Aquarelle looks to be a troll who just posts about how ugly someone is. She was all over the Frank Ocean thread posting the same thing over & over. A lot of her posts got deleted.

  • Sohobod

    Firstly, it’s not naff because it’s a painting of a semi-naked man, it’s naff because it’s a very bad and utterly unimaginative painting of a semi-naked man. It’s a slavish copy of a series of photographs.

    Secondly, I didn’t say that someone’s sexuality or life experience is ‘irrelivant’ to their art. That is far from what I believe. But should that express itself simply as showing the badly painted bodies of people one happens to fancy? Sure, that can be a part. Leonardo and Michaelangelo did that sometimes. But it wasn’t their WHOLE act, like this guy.

    Thirdly, what the hell has ‘personal expression’ have to do with something being any good?

    Lastly, people who buy this kind of thing are naff. And they’re wasting their money because there is no secondary market. Sorry, but I work in the art trade and I know that’s a fact.

  • Making up stuff is fun!

    This isn’t good art. Good luck to the young man, though.

  • Analog

    @Sohobod: I see – your argument is that if you think something is good then it’s ‘art’ and if you think something is bad then it isn’t ‘art’.
    That’s personal taste; it isn’t a fact, it’s an opinion.
    That’s fair enough, but don’t try to stretch your own taste to some objective statement about what is or isn’t ‘art’. It doesn’t hold.

    People who buy this kind of art probably do so because they like it.
    Some buy stuff they like and some buy stuff because of how much it goes for at Christie’s or whether or not there’s a “secondary market”.
    That’s about making money – nothing to do with art.
    How banal – I rather think it’s the latter who are naff.

  • Sohobod

    No, it’s bad art because there’s nothing to it. No imagination. Nothing that has a ‘wow’ factor. No edge. Safe soft porn for people on the naffer side of the gay spectrum. It’s just bland. Nothing to do with making money… although that is the reason the ‘artist’ is using the swimmer. Good publicity angle, don’t you think?

  • Analog

    @Sohobod: “Soft porn”? How terribly conservative you increasingly seem.
    Why not just say that you don’t personally like this particular artist’s work?
    Rather than masquerading as some grand expert on what is and isn’t ‘art’ and calling those who buy these paintings “naff” either because you can’t see any worth in them yourself or because – in your opinion – they’ll never make a profit on them.
    No one will think any less of you, dear.
    In fact, they’ll probably think a little more of you. :)

    Personally, I hope he sells them all and makes as much money for Matthew as possible…

  • Sohobod


    I know you’re really Ross Watson ;)

    A little piece of advice: learn to draw free-hand. Then your figures won’t look so ‘copied’ and photographically ‘perfect’.

  • Analog

    @Sohobod: You’ve floundered me with your intellectually robust debating skills and now your laser-like intelligence has unmasked my true identity. :(

    “A little piece of advice: learn to draw free-hand. Then your figures won’t look so ‘copied’ and photographically ‘perfect’.”

    You mean like Warhol, that in-no-way-gay artist who never, ever created gay art?
    What expertise your lucky Soho clients are privy to. ;)

  • Sohobod

    Warhol’s act wasn’t photo-realism. He manipulated existing images or used polaroid photographs etc as the basis for his work.
    Realism only works when there is something ‘human’ about it. Rembrandt painted real people in a realist-ish manner, but he brought something of himself to the party. You can tell a Rembrandt from 500 yards. And you can also tell a Chuck Close at a glance, because, although he is a photorealist, he’s not a slavish copier.
    Throw away your projector. The advice about developing a free-hand style will pay dividends for you.

  • Analog

    @Sohobod: “Warhol’s act”? Jesus, your love of art really shines through in every post.
    I’m glad you can tell a Chuck Close from a Rembrandt.
    That’s quite impressive.

    I must search out more of this “Realist-ish-ism” you mention.
    It sounds fascinating.

  • Sohobod

    If you knew anything about Warhol, you would know that he would be very happy with the description of his career as an ‘act’. He wasn’t pompous. Pop art is ‘throw-away’ and all surface. That’s the point.

  • Analog

    @Sohobod: Oh, it was so much more than an act, dear.
    What Warhol was was one of his great works of art. If you take it all literally or just see ‘surface’, well…
    If you knew anything about art or, indeed, had any genuine appreciation for what it is, you wouldn’t use words like “career” in relation to any artist, esp. Warhol.
    Again, you seem so conservative. Very business-like, if I may say so? :)

  • EvonCook

    Sohobod and Analog, Stop going at it. You both have valid points from your viewpoints, and the fact that a painting is hung in a National Gallery when the celebrity pictured is a national hero about to perform in the Olympics does not make it fine “art.” Just as having a secondary market is not a good primary reason to buy an art work. Anyone can see, or should be able to see the utter stiffness and slavish photo-realism, but lets accept it as a fundraising attempt, camp art and very, almost desperately, dependent on historical associations and other artists’ work, making it lack a certain originality, spontaneity and creativity. I am hoping the artist is not using the athlete quite to the degree suggested, and maybe other artists of greater vision and talent will take the opportunity to immortalize this handsome lad for the world. Let’s just hope he is able to win, and not be totally condemning of any gay art, because who knows what it may inspire? Thankfully, eroticism was able to be injected by great artists of the past into their commissions which were usually propagandistic pieces for rather hateful and disgusting religion! After all, the human and artistic qualities of the art are its only saving grace and the only reasons we shouldn’t blow up their buildings and burn their bigoted art.

  • Sohobod

    Warhol revelled in the idea of his work as being ‘surface’. You don’t seem to get the point of people like him Richard Hamilton and Lichtenstein. They wanted their work to be compared to the advertising they saw all around them.
    Look at the vacuousness of Warhol’s Factory and seeming banality of his films.
    And Warhol was more concerned about being busness-like and making money as anyone on the planet. Again, the huge amounts he could scam was part of the act.
    What your work lacks is ‘irony’. If you embraced the naffness – stopped being so pompous about what are pretty stiff and uninteresting pictures – and really make your work interestingly kitsch, you might end up making more decent work.
    But yopu have to learn to draw first. Start simple. Think of the human head as an egg. The eyes are half way down the egg.

    @Evon Cook
    I have nothing aginst the swimmer, and hope he does well, just so long as he doesn’t beat a Brit.

  • Analog

    @Sohobod: Haha, oh god we’re just going to go round in circles.
    Just agree to disagree?

    PS – he’ll be competing against Tom Daley, but I still hope Mitcham wins, traitor that I am. :p

    Nice bitching with you.


  • Sohobod

    We’ll agree to disagree, although I’m right about everything.

  • michael

    He is an adorable guy and really sweet. Best of luck to him. As far as the art goes; beauty is in the eye of the beholder but some folks are just plain blind.

  • John Hancock

    AWESOME pics of Matthew….wish I could afford on or two :)

  • Ian McK

    Our Aussie hero. Matthew is just a top gay guy with a huge talent for diving. I hope he comes home with more GOLD! He is totally awesome.

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