Katja Seib

Girls, 2017

Oil on Hessian

180 × 170 cm

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Seib’s paintings are like bittersweet harmonies of colour in which hues are attuned to feelings. They express an air of tenderness, somewhere unhurried and pleasant, but oddly imbued with regret. Girls, one of Seib’s most recent works, captures this peculiar mix of emotions that is quite hard to pin down. Typically, the story depicted here seems non finito, left for our imagination to complete. The setting is unclear: is this an interior or a street scene? The 326 number on the upper left corner hints at the latter; but the floorboards could just as well be those of a studio. The story’s enigma can be pieced together in these kinds of details, and effectively, we look at Seib’s painting with a detective’s eye, picking out clues to reconstruct the jigsaw here.

A man standing against a pale pink wall is facing us, returning our gaze quite unsurprised. His posture itself oozes nonchalance: left leg leaning up against the wall, hands in his pockets, casual clothing that fits his laid-back pose. Still, his carefree attitude is tinged with sadness, he appears content but perhaps there is more. Seib toys with this voyeuristic idea: we can suppose that we have just entered this room or place and interrupted the man as he was working on the drawing beside him on the wall. The ‘in medias res’ effect adds an element of drama, positioning us as spectators peering through the keyhole. Seib’s practice indeed gravitates around spontaneity and intrigue.

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

October 1st, 2017 until
December 16th, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER