Wendy Sharpe.
Article Type: Painting
Subject: Painting, Australian (Works)
Painting, Australian (Criticism and interpretation)
Women painters (Works)
Women painters (Criticism and interpretation)
Self-portraits (Works)
Self-portraits (Criticism and interpretation)
Painters, Australian
Author: Sharpe, Wendy
Pub Date: 05/01/2010
Publication: Name: Hecate Publisher: Hecate Press Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Hecate Press ISSN: 0311-4198
Issue: Date: May-Nov, 2010 Source Volume: 36 Source Issue: 1-2
Persons: Named Person: Sharpe, Wendy; Sharpe, Wendy
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia
Accession Number: 246529820
Full Text: Wendy Sharpe paints portraits and others that she describes as 'semi self-portraits'. As she states: 'I identify with the main character, who is both female and an artist. I am not interested in likeness but more about situation and psychological state' (Artist statement, 2007). In Self Portrait (After Courbet with Model and Child Self) (2006), she references the painting titled The Artist's Studio, a real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life (1854-1855) by French Realist painter Gustave Courbet (1819-1877). Courbet's monumental work portrays the artist as an heroic figure with a draped female model gazing over his shoulder at his almost completed canvas. The scene is set in a grandiose studio where he holds court centre stage with his coterie of friends and supporters, including, on the right-hand side, such influential figures as the philosopher Proudhon and critics Champfleury and Baudelaire and, on the left, a largely uninterested group that Courbet described as representative of 'everyday life'.

Self portrait (After Courbet with Model and Child Self) (2006) is an homage to Courbet and his challenge to the rigid rules of the Paris Salon. Sharpe, however, portrays herself within a modest, domestic studio with coffee on the boil. Tightly cropped to Courbet's central group, she 'mirrors' his work--her purple and black striped tights mimic his attire, both artists have white cats gambolling underfoot, and the paintings on their easels suggest similar scale and tonal masses. But whereas Courbet's muse appears as a draped female model and the small boy he instructs represents the new generation of (male) artists, Sharpe's model is male and she has reincarnated herself as the attentive pigtailed girl. Finally, Sharpe's lively colour and brushwork provides a glimpse of the artist's exuberant personality within this 'semi self-portrait', so unlike Courbet's dark Realism.

Wendy Sharpe lives and works in Sydney, and has won many awards and prizes including the Archibald Prize in 1996 and the Portia Geach Prize in 1995 and 2003. Sharpe was appointed Australian Official Artist to cover the Interfet peacekeeping operations in East Timor in 1999-2000, the first woman to be assigned such a role since the Australian Official War Artists of World War Two.

Wendy Sharpe (1960-)

Self Portrait (After Courbet with Model and Child Self) 2006

Oil on canvas 180x200cm

Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2007.

Reproduced courtesty of the artist and Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane.
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