Paris through the window

• Wendy Sharpe. Photo by Charmaine Lyons Photography

LIVES are condensed into brightly lit windows in Wendy Sharpe’s A Night with the Neighbours.

The painting is an almost comic-book rendition of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, with surreptitious glimpses into the lives of others.

Sharpe is based in Sydney but spends part of the year in her ninth floor apartment in Montmartre, and her new exhibition Paris is a homage to the lively arrondissement.

“They are imagined stories that take place in Paris, they are little narratives,” she says.

Sharpe delves into the secret world of locals, depicting the coexistence between the real and the imagined in Montmartre.

Flamboyant

Her flamboyant characters can be seen talking, sitting naked in the window, or in front of a mirror or eating.

Surrounded by apartments, Sharpe discovered people on the top storey would often leave their curtains open.

“When I first got the apartment I wondered if I should wave to people across the way. But no, you have to pretend you can’t see them. But you notice their life.”

Other images are of street scenes, but Sharpe eschews the obvious tourist images.

“This is not the postcard Paris. These paintings are like stills from a film or a paragraph from an unwritten novel. You are given the scene, the characters and the mood, and the narrative is open.”

In 1999 Sharpe was appointed official war artist during the Australian military role in East Timor.

She was the first female artist to be appointed in the role since World War II.

She won the Archibald Portrait prize in 1996 with a flamboyant self-portrait and has been a finalist six times.

Paris is on at Linton and Kay Gallery in Subiaco until June 30.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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