Katja Seib

Don’t Call Me Sir, Call Me Survivor, 2016

Oil on Hessian

180 × 190 cm

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The Guy Fawkes mask has morphed from a eulogistic token of a 400-year-old ill-fated conspiracy to a symbol of revolutionary protest and concealed identities.  Its recent re-emergence into the domain of popular culture has come through recent cinematic movies, such as ‘V for Vendetta’. Revisiting the icon, Katja Seib’s ‘Don’t Call Me Sir, Call Me Survivor’ offers an ambiguous centralisation of the mask, a focal point; one with pronounced intimacy where anonymity is wrought with affection. The overall flatness is characteristic of the artist’s practice where the forms of motifs and brands separate through lineation rather than an emphasised sense of depth. Michael Kors, Marlborough, the NBA… each co-exist with the same uniformity, perhaps a perceptive interpolation of the banality of the everyday where the mediatisation of life sublimates the potentiality of revolution within a conflux of logo imagery and branding.

Conversely, Seib blends pre-established notions of portraiture and narrative with a contemporary inflection that is distinctly outside the quotidian. Fabrics, wallpapers, and smoke pulsate with a dramatic flow that slips deftly between caricature and critique.  Yet there is something unnerving about the scene presented in ‘Don’t Call Me Sir…’ that continues to pique the intrigue of the viewer: exterior or interior, friends or lovers, concealing or revealing? Are we met with neutral and introspective visual logic or should the titular request propagate a call to action? Ultimately Katja Seib’s contrast of wistfulness and inadvertent commentary encourages the viewer to draw their own – varied ­– conclusions, eliding the clarity of narrative message for an inspiratory opacity.

the artist

Born in 1989 in Düsseldorf, Katja Seib graduated from the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie in early 2016 and has been working closely with ARTUNER since then. Seib studied in the MFA painting class with Prof. Tomma Abts. She lives and works in Los Angeles. Katja Seib's paintings are complex and seductive; the coarse hessian fabric, that is her painting surface of choice, allows for a play of textures and hues integrated in the visual vocabulary of her art. The artist’s painting process is quite labour-intense. Firstly, hessian cloth requires to be smoothened with several layers of rabbit glue and chalk. Then, Katja Seib mixes the pigments herself, to be in control of the thickness and degree of coarseness of the colours. This way, the artist is able to enhance her paintings’ narratives on a textural level as well; the balance between uncouth and dainty establishes the tension of these works and guides the viewer’s eye from one character to next. Katja Seib paints exclusively in a figurative style, which allows her to develop alluring and mysterious narratives of desire and strangeness. The topic of dreams is extremely important to Seib. To her, the experience of dreaming offers to the individual a much needed escape from reality. Domestic settings coexist with bizarre situations; the everyday as much as the outlandish are flattened on the same surface and yet, there is a strange sense of deepness and space that allows the work’s existence to expand beyond the limits of their own frame; the contour of a body bustling in another room, a disembodied arm opening a door, or waving a feather, a cigarette’s smoke spiralling towards the ‘real world’.

Katja Seib’s paintings are complex and seductive. Painting exclusively in a figurative style allows her to develop alluring and mysterious narratives of desire and strangeness.

Katja Seib
on Artuner

Part of the

November 2nd, 2017 until
December 29th, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER