My Story

“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