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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 Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Christos Tsiolkas

1998 (printed 2009)
John Tsiavis

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 57.2 cm x 50.8 cm, image: 43 cm x 34 cm)

Christos Tsiolkas (b. 1965) is a Melbourne-born writer of Greek descent, whose work deals uncompromisingly with sexuality, identity and politics. His first novel Loaded (1995) was made into the award-winning film Head On (1997), directed by Anna Kokkinos and starring Alex Dimitriades. His third novel Dead Europe (2005) won The Age Fiction Book of the Year. Tsiolkas has also written non-fiction and worked as a playwright on plays that have been performed in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra. His 2008 novel The Slap, a taut drama reflecting the changing cultural face of suburban Australia, won a swathe of awards and was made into an acclaimed television series, as was Barracuda, published in 2013. Damascus (2019), an historical novel, won the 2020 Victorian Premier's Prize for Fiction. Tsiolkas has mentored emerging writers, a role he sees as reflecting his own experience: 'I was very fortunate that I had a couple of mentors in my life.'

Photographer John Tsiavis and Tsiolkas, both from Melbourne's Greek community, met on the set of Head On. Taken at a time when Tsiolkas' reputation as a talented young writer was developing, the moody photographs reflect the exploration of masculinity and sexuality in his work, and capture his psychological intensity.

Purchased 2009
© John Tsiavis

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

John Tsiavis (age 21 in 1998)

Christos Tsiolkas (age 33 in 1998)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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