“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances” William Shakespeare
Femme Fatales and I go back a long way. I grew up in a small country town, however at an early age was drawn to the glamour of the golden age of Hollywood and read magazines Men’s Esquire, Vanity Fair and Spy. I lived vicariously through the silver screen identifying with private eyes, gangsters and the sassy ladies that kept them honest. It shaped my imagination and passions.
My desire to be part of show biz life was so great, I studied and practised make-up whilst studying painting at university. And soon after, I was moonlighting as a make-up artist working on some of the most beautiful darlings of the time. Studying painting at university was memorable but not nearly as unforgettable as the actresses, chorus girls and models I worked alongside of, mostly for stage but occasionally for film and photography.
When I travelled abroad and moved to Sydney in the late 90’s, I felt energised and consumed by the experiences of the metropolis. It was during this time I began to paint a character I affectionately called the ‘Broadway Princess.’ She occurs throughout many of my paintings taking the guise of various real-life muses, but her character largely stayed the same. She was a Sally Bowles (Cabaret) styled central figure and protagonist, a legacy of my years spent in the entertainment industry. Artistic influences such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas, Tamara de Lempicka and Edward Hopper, reinforced the exciting, glamorous and hedonistic world of bohemian life and its romantic ideals.
Over the years I’ve worked in a creative capacity in make-up, fashion photography, ad agencies and for a subscription TV company. Female gender, haunting beauty and mystery have remained protagonists in my private work and the frames of reference through which I express my open narratives. This is where the femme fatale finds her place in my oeuvre.
Today, we see the femme fatale everywhere. She’s in movies, advertisements and music videos. Brands, actresses, models, entertainers and photographers have forged reputations based on the femme fatale and our connection with this archetype. She’s universally recognised and familiar to most cultures and a provocative presence throughout western history. I explore the femme fatale’s complex story of existence in our culture as well as dynamics of our relations to her and of her to others. I ask questions of our culture and our relationship to female gender.
The femme fatale’s allure promises romance, sex, love and compliance. But she often subverts those ideals and expectations. She’s writing her own story and will keep us guessing. At her most vulnerable, her back’s to the wall and she is powerless; at her most powerful, she commands her full potential. In my work, I play out both sides. The idealistic clichés we cling to, of glamour and romance, versus enigmatic and subversive alternatives. I draw upon a lifetime of memories experienced around theatres, studios, nightclubs and homes of the rich and famous, to inform art dedicated to the femme fatale. I make her more accessible to my audience, hoping to inspire intrigue and conversation, with a desire to know more.
Like a well-honed film noir plot, my life has taken some twists and turns, and the femme fatale has always been there with me, forever the seductive force she has always been. I’m excited you’ve come along for the ride. You’d better buckle up, there’s dangerous curves ahead.
Brett Moffatt is an Australian based artist. He graduated from Queensland College of Art with a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 1992 and from Monash University a Masters Degree in Visual Arts in 2006. He also possesses Diplomas in Cosmetology, Special Effects and Theatrical make up, as well as having earned a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Visual Arts Teaching from the Queensland University of Technology in 2012.
His photographic portrait of Cate Cambell OAM was highly commended as a finalist in the Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture, 2019. His painted portrait of aboriginal elder Maroochy Barambah was selected as a finalist in the inaugural Brisbane Portrait Prize, Powerhouse Museum. In 2017 his portrait of world champion swimmer Cate Campbell OAM was a semi-finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize. In 2015/16 he was selected for a mentorship with Nick Knight as part of Fashion Photography: Mastered. He has been awarded nine prizes including in 2004, an Ian Potter Cultural Trust Scholarship to travel and study art in Florence, Italy; and was a finalist for the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship in 2003. Moffatt has had 7 solo exhibitions and has been included in over 20 group curated and commercial exhibitions including the New York International Art Expo in 2003.
Moffatt has completed works for some of Australia’s highest profile clients and designers including – Alan Jones, John Singleton, Maggi Eckardt, Sir Timothy & Lady Beverley Ward and many others. He has painted the portraits of – HRH Princesses Natalia & Irina Guicciardini Strozzi, Alan Jones, Jeff McMullen, Sir Donald Bradman, Greg Norman, Shane Warne, David Beckham, John Wolseley, Rick Amor, Euan Macleod, Nicholas Harding, Anwen Keeling, Natalie Gruzlewski, Erin McNaught, world champion swimmers Cate & Bronte Campbell, Miss World Australia 2018, Taylah Cannon, and aboriginal elder of the Turrbal nation, Maroochy Barambah.
His work hangs in corporate, public and private collections in Australia, United States, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom and Greece. He has also been commissioned to work alongside designers to create film & stage sets, theme park settings, ad campaigns, press photography, and brands. Past collaborators and clients include – Foxtel, Warner Brothers, SBS & ABC Television, Australian Film Television and Radio School, Polytech, ArtNow Studios and The Australian Yoga Journal.
He produces paintings, photographs, drawings and videos. Selected works from past series feature here