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Wendy Sharpe


Wendy Sharpe

BURLESQUE 9 October – 3 November 2012

Cover: Glitta Supernova as Queen Bee 96x102cm oil on linen 2012

T: +61 2 9360 9727

art@kingstreetgallery.com


Wendy Sharpe and the burlesque Theatre, on stage and back-stage, has long inspired Wendy Sharpe. There are many sketchbooks filled with drawings she has made of stage performances. For these, her most recent works, she sought out burlesque shows, including Sydney’s Burlesque Ball, Pretty Peepers cabaret, Anything goes and Dr Sketchy’s. In Paris she spent time drawing at La Bellevilloise and La Cigale “as well as venues so small they can only fit a dozen people”. She has also had individual performers sit for her in her studio. The highly choreographed and sanitised Moulin Rouge of the present-day doesn’t interest her. “Burlesque should be satirical, bawdy and raw. I love the craziness and costumes and lack of them … that it is all kinds of women.”

Les Parisiennes Isabelle de Lussac et Lara de Douai - Mere et Fille (Mother and Daughter) 92x92cm oil on linen 2012

I have always loved the theatre, dramatic lighting and the contrast between back-stage and the magic world of the stage. Wendy Sharpe painting Venus Vamp in her Sydney Studio

She is a great admirer of Toulouse-Lautrec, whose paintings, drawings, prints and posters of promiscuous Paris nightlife in the latter part of the 19th century are legendary, so it seems only appropriate that the studio she and her partner, Bernard Ollis, have in Paris, is quite near where Lautrec’s was once. His gritty behind-thescenes realism has certainly stimulated her to be equally fearless. All things theatrical interest her – the sets, the elaborate costumes, extravagant hairstyles and make-up. She delights in vivid colour, the texture of different materials and the exposure of flesh. In these recent works she has taken even greater licence by ramping-up her palette, experimenting with chance effects and unexpected colour combinations, resorting to using theatre lights and colour filters in her studio to recreate the atmosphere whenever needed.


The evocative words of J K Huysmans about the risqué dancers of the Folies-Bergère in Parisian sketches (1880)* could just as well apply to the women in Sharpe’s latest paintings: They are outrageous and they are magnificent … powdered and painted, eyes drowned in a smudge of pale blue, lips ringed in startling red, their breasts thrust out over laced corsets, exuding waves of opoponax which they disperse by fanning, and which mingles with the strong aroma of their underarms and the subtle scent of a flower expiring on their bust.

Glitta Supernova with Tea and Iced Vovo’s 137x122cm oil on canvas 2012

These latest drawings, gouaches, pastels and paintings are Wendy Sharpe’s most audacious to date. Subject, colour and painterly exuberance suggest an ever-growing confidence and willingness to take risks. Undoubtedly one of the best known figurative painters in Sydney, she is also one of the most accomplished and exhilarating. Looking at her work is a joy, reflecting the pleasure she has in her subjects and in the making of her art.

Hendrik Kolenberg Senior Curator of Australian Prints, Drawings and Watercolours Art Gallery of New South Wales

* English translation Brendan King, Dedalus Ltd, UK (2004, 2007)

Anything Goes - Venus Vamp 107x92cm oil on linen 2012


Demoiselles Darlinghurst 182x182cm oil on linen 2012

Mia and Annick as Marie Antoinette and Josephine Baker 96x102cm oil on linen 2012


Mia Mortal and Annick Saint – Showgirls 92x76cm oil linen 2012

Venus Vamp Queen of the Nile 51x56cm oil on linen 2012


Dressing Room 96x102cm oil on linen 2012

Cherry Lush with Red Shoes 56x76cm oil on linen 2012


from left to right: Melody 27x20cm gouache on paper 2012 Fire Woman 27x20cm gouache on paper 2012 Red Bra and Suspenders 27x20cm gouache on paper 2012 Pasties and Skeleton 27x20cm gouache on paper 2012 Three Performers with Blue Light 27x20cm gouache on paper 2012


Heidi Hula Hoops with Red Undies 42x30cm charcoal and pastel 2012

Feathers and Gin 42x30cm charcoal and pastel 2011

Wendy Dys in a Champagne Glass (front view) 42x30cm gouache 2012

Wendy Dys in a Champagne Glass (side view) 42x30cm gouache 2012


Fabienne and Raphy - (Les Parisiennes)

Glitta and Yaz 122x136cm oil on canvas 2012


Back Stage at the Burlesque Ball 32x212cm gouache on custom made folding book 2012 Little Devil 50x40 oil on linen 2012


A Note on the Exhibition – Wendy Sharpe 2012 “... Burlesque if you look it up in the dictionary says that, for the sake of laughter, vulgarizes lofty material or treats ordinary material with mock dignity. So with that in mind I leap gaily forward into the unknown.”

Glitta Supernova – Producer and Starlette of Pretty Peepers Cabaret

This exhibition was derived from attending many burlesque shows as an audience member or back stage. I tried to avoid the over produced Las Vegas show girl type as well as bland strip shows, instead I am interested in the more satirical and subversive small scale shows. This includes shows in Inner Sydney, such as the Art House Hotel also in many venues in Darlinghurst, East Sydney, Enmore, Erskineville, Newtown and Marrickville. In Paris I went to various Burlesque Shows at venues including, La Cigale, Theatre Adyar, Le Feu de la Ramp, La Bellevilloise (home of La Cabaret de Filles de Joie) and also in the smallest theatre I have ever seen down an alley in Montmartre! Thank you to performers and models, Annick Saint, Cherry Lush, Fabienne Benveniste (Isabelle de Lussac) and Rafy Limoges (Lara de Douai) both from Paris, Glitta Supernova, Grace, Heidi Hula Hoops, Mayela de la Rue, Mia Mortal, Sarah (as Marilyn), Venus Vamp, Wendy Dys (and her Art Babes), Yaz. With special thanks to Jac Bowie and the all performers in the 2011 Burlesque Ball, for allowing Glitta Supernova at Pretty peepers Cabaret Imperial hotel Erskineville

me back stage at the Enmore Theatre, to draw and photograph. Glitta Supernova and the other performers for allowing me to hang around the dressing room in the Imperial hotel during “Pretty Peepers” Cabarets, Erskineville. Wendy Dys and her mother Yvonne for their help and hospitality in Adelaide. To the Demoiselles of Darlinghurst who welcomed me into their inner sanctum and allowed me to draw them, and also to Katie Bell and Xavier Love Bomb for their help. Artwork Photographed by Peter Jones, Martin Lane, David London and Tracy Schramm Performers Photographed by Wendy Sharpe

Cherry Lush

Wendy Sharpe in her studio at St Peters Photographed by Tracy Schramm


King Street Gallery on William

10am – 6pm Tuesday – Saturday 177 William St Darlinghurst NSW 2010 Australia T: 61 2 9360 9727 F: 61 2 9331 4458 art@kingstreetgallery.com www.kingstreetgallery.com.au Director: Robert Linnegar Director: Randi Linnegar

Member of the Australian Commercial Galleries Assocation Registered Valuer with the Australian Government Taxations Incentives for the Arts Scheme ISBN 978-0-9805041-9-4


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