Collection: Jane Gerrish | Drawing

Matisse’s Harem: A behind-the-scenes journey into a secret world

In her latest solo show, Sydney artist Jane Gerrish takes us to the glamourous Côte d’Azur of the 1920s and beyond, revealing captivating detail of master Henri Matisse in his studios.

Working as painter, set designer, makeup artist and costume designer, Matisse’s adoration of women is explored through a series of painstakingly researched, fine drawings, with bursts of exuberant colour, reflecting the ‘joie de vie’ of the period.

Unlike many of his peers, Matisse thought of his women as creative partners, treating them with great respect and admiration. Often plucked from their lives as actresses and dancers in vibrant, Nice, Matisse would pose his concubines in amazing costumes,  placing them in wildly theatrical harem stage sets.

Accompanying this exhibition, Jane Gerrish gives us a written guide with detail and timelines that serves to contextualise the period and place us as select spectators in these intimate studio settings.

In her works we see and learn about Matisse’s use of sumptuous tasselled cushions; huge gilded mirrors; tarnished pewter pitchers; carved Moorish screens; inlaid Turkish daybeds; pottery from Fez; porcelain from China; Persian carpets and his familiar, richly patterned textiles.

Entitled “Observe”, this unique exhibition makes full use of Jane’s fashion design background, giving us highly sensitive renderings of drapery and precise detailing of patterns and textures.

Since 2016, Jane’s work has been exhibited at many galleries in Sydney including Gallery East Clovelly and Saint Cloche Paddington. She has had solo exhibitions at Gallery East in 2016 and Suki & Hugh in 2018.

“Observe” is Jane's third solo exhibition.

She has been a finalist in many art prizes including the Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing 2021 Croydon Sydney, Waverley Art Prize Sydney 2016, M16 Gallery Drawing Prize Canberra, 2016, Little Things Art Prize Saint Cloche Gallery Paddington 2016/17/18/19, National Still Life Award Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery 2019, and Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize Sydney 2020.