Best in Show

15th Annual ARC Salon (2020-2021)

Robert Liberace

Spartan

2020

121.92 × 76.2 cm | 48 × 30 in

Oil on canvas

  • Best in Show ($25,000 Cash Award)
  • ARC Purchase Awards ($22,000)

This work is in the Collection of the Art Renewal Center.

The painting depicts my daughter, Ava, dressed in an assortment of athletic gear and posing with vintage boxing gloves as she defiantly stares down the viewer with a challenging gaze. The ambiguously spare background is intended to focus the attention on the boxer and create a monumental effect.

My wife found the heavily worn boxing gloves in a small-town antique store as we traveled home from a family trip, which happened to be near Mohamed Ali’s home town. She thought they would make the perfect centerpiece for a portrait. The gloves were immediately put to use in the studio as my daughter and young nephew posed with these enormous leather mittens. Ava’s fighting spirit was keenly awakened once the gloves were laced up and she naturally struck poses exhibiting an indomitable confidence and unwavering conviction. This arrangement offers an alternate view of a modern young women upending traditional roles often imposed by social or cultural conventions. 

The title “Spartan” is inspired by the brand of boxing equipment commonly used by the great classic fighters from Joe Louis to Ali. The name also evokes the feared warrior race of Classical Greece which perfectly embody the fighting spirit of all the women who live under the roof here in my humble Virginia home.