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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Witching Hour - Elena Kats-Chernin, 2017

Wendy Sharpe

oil on canvas (support: 150.0 cm x 150.0 cm)

Elena Kats-Chernin trained at the Gnessin Musical College in Moscow before moving to Australia in 1975. On graduation from the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music in 1980 she gained a DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) grant to study with Helmut Lachenmann in Hanover. She spent thirteen years in Germany before returning to Australia, where she now lives in Sydney. Among her many commissions are pieces for Ensemble Modern, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Australian World Orchestra, the Adelaide, Tasmanian, Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the North Carolina Symphony. In 2011 Kats-Chernin was appointed composer-in-residence with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and in 2017 she played the same role with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. In between, her CD Butterflying (comprising piano works for four hands, with Tamara-Anna Cislowska, released on ABC Classics) was at the top of ARIA Classical Core Chart for 13 weeks, reaching number 1 in September 2016. Her Unsent love letters: meditations on Erik Satie (piano solo, featuring Tamara-Anna Cislowska, released on ABC Classics) debuted at number 1 on the ARIA Classical Chart in March 2017. Choreographers around the world have created dances around Kats-Chernin’s music and it has often featured in television, advertising and film scores.

The title The Witching Hour refers to a concerto for eight double basses composed by Kats-Chernin for the Australian World Orchestra, performed at the Sydney Opera House in September 2016 and at Singapore’s Esplanade Concert Hall the following month. The composer and the artist are friends, and the painting was Sharpe’s Archibald entry for 2017 (it was hung in the Salon des Refusés). The development of the work was recorded in a Mint Pictures documentary about the Archibald shown on Foxtel Arts that year.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with the assistance of the Circle of Friends 2018
© Wendy Sharpe

Accession number: 2018.122

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Wendy Sharpe (age 57 in 2017)

Elena Kats-Chermin

Subject professions

Performing arts

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell

Eye to eye

Previous exhibition, 2019

Eye to Eye is a summer Portrait Gallery Collection remix arranged by degree of eye contact – from turned away with eyes closed all the way through to right-back-at-you – as we explore artists’ and subjects’ choices around the direction of the gaze.

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The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.