“It’s a very funny show,” Police and Justice Museum artist-in-residence Rosemary Valadon says of Wicked Women. The series of paintings, three years in the making, presents portraits of 17 high-profile Australian women as cover girls from old pulp novels and noir fiction.
From the very recognisable, such as Tara Moss, Rachel Ward, Sonia Kruger and Imogen Kelley to women more used to letting their words speak for themselves like Ros Reines, Larissa Behrendt and Annette Shun Wah, the portraits represent, “modern women, in charge of their own destinies.” The vibrant works explore the dangerous side of the women, at once ironic and sexy.
Valadon used oils to produce the work. “You want the finish to look buttery and spontaneous,” she says. “To avoid grey in painting is my main concern. [The colours] set up a natural vibration. It slows you down, makes you take your time and you can sink into it”.
The portraits are certainly vibrant, with luminous colours bringing the women to life. Above all else, they are a celebration of strong women, of their dark side, their strength and their style. Wicked Women is about showing the many facets of female archetypes – the femme fatale, the showgirl, the husband killer, and the siren, but also the actress, the lawyer, the dancer, the journalist and the activist.
Until April 28, 2013, Police & Justice Museum, cnr Albert & Phillip Sts, Circular Quay, $5-20 family, 9252 1144, hht.net.au/museums/justice_and_police_museum