Albury-born Sydney barrister Charles Waterstreet opens latest exhibition of Myrtleford painter Jim van Geet at MAMA

Flying into Albury for one night only, the well known and somewhat irrepressible barrister, Charles Waterstreet opened an art exhibition of his friend Jim van Geet by saying they were both “people pervs”.

Mr Waterstreet said each man was fascinated by people and their stories.

“Jim and I follow the similar patterns of being people pervs,” he said.

Van Geet’s show, Soul Journey, which opened at MAMA on Thursday features 15 paintings created over the past three years.

The Myrtleford painter, a contemporary realist, said most of his subject matter was people.

“With the portraiture to me, it’s the people that are important,” he said.

“I want to get under the skin, I want to find out what makes them tick, what's made them the way they are, everybody has a story from high court judges ... to homeless people, they've all got a story and it’s fascinating.

“I've spent as much time talking and interacting as I have painting.”

Van Geet said the ultimate gratification came when friends and family of a subject would say a portrait had captured “who they are”.

In a picture of Mr Waterstreet painted last year as a submission to the Archibald Prize, titled Rake’s Last Stand, van Geet said he decided to pick out one part of his multi-faceted personality – his joie de vivre.

Charles Waterstreet compares his hand to the skin of a model painted in a portrait of him. Picture: PETER DE KRUIJFF

Charles Waterstreet compares his hand to the skin of a model painted in a portrait of him. Picture: PETER DE KRUIJFF

The painting depicts Mr Waterstreet, in the robes of his profession, in a law library with two naked women fawning over him like models on a James Bond film poster.

Van Geet said the pair discussed the concept and stole into a high profile library late at night  for the “sitting” with two females after an exhibition opening in Sydney.

Mr Waterstreet said van Geet didn’t realise the work which went into the painting from him and the girls.

“And it's not just these girls (in the portrait), there are numbers of girls who wanted this role, and the auditions took place without Jim knowing and they're still going on post-painting,” he said.

Another of van Geet’s subjects, who he said was almost a muse, was also at the opening.

Argentinian writer Gabriella Ruiz said she allowed herself to be painted because she could feel a good vibe and a connection with van Geet.