We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting

Margarita Georgiadis Excelle - Libbi Gorr

oil on canvas

213 x 183 cm

Margarita Georgiadis says she likes to paint powerful Australian icons. ‘I wanted to paint an Australian female this time who makes bold statements without fear; a woman who did not fall into the character clichés: the vamp, the predictable sex symbol, the politician or model.’

Lisbeth Gorr seemed to fit the bill perfectly. A writer, producer and performer on television and radio, Gorr is best known for her audacious interviews in the guise of her character Elle McFeast.

‘I have always admired Libbi. She is a woman with great courage of mind and spirit,” says Georgiadis. ‘Through her infectious humour she conveys a raw truth about contemporary society and she has a powerful and unique sensuality.’

Georgiadis asked Gorr, ‘If you could be the cover girl for your own version of Elle magazine, what would you say with one pose?’Gorr responded: ‘That every woman should embrace the power of her individual beauty, inside and out. Be yourself and celebrate the power of being a woman.’ So that’s what they set out to do. It was Gorr who suggested taking her clothes off. ‘It’s something she has always wanted to do as a way of expressing herself, and here was her golden opportunity,’ says Georgiadis.

Georgiadis uses text extensively in her work and has templates of the alphabet lying around, which Gorr played with during the sittings. ‘Word play is very important in my work. The X and L stood for so many things we wanted to say: excel, exposed Elle, whilst Libbi signs her name XL (X for a kiss and L for Libbi or “Elle”).’

Georgiadis was born in Sydney in 1968 to migrant parents. She did a Bachelor of Arts at Sydney College of the Arts and has worked professionally as a painter for the past 12 years, the last five of those full-time.