Katja Seib

Stranger in Moscow, 2016

Oil on Hessian

220 × 190 cm

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There is constant elusion and an evasive playfulness in Katja Seib’s painting ‘Stranger in Moscow’. At its centre is the late American pop star, Prince, lying across a bed in homage to the record cover of the singer’s 1983 hit, ‘Delirious’. The neon-lit lyrics on the purple wall are taken from the track, ‘Song About Purple’, from Mike Kelley’s ‘Day is Done’ project, a nod to Prince’s most famous hit.

Seib began work on ‘Stranger in Moscow’ on the 21st April, 2016, the day Prince died. The composition encapsulates Seib’s broader sense of malaise with the recent deaths of iconic musicians and artists, particularly Michael Jackson. Here Jackson is remembered through Jeff Koon’s famous porcelain incarnation of the singer from 1988; Seib illuminates Koon’s artwork by the light of a lamp resting on a chest of drawers.

Prince, facing the viewer, can be seen completing a water colouring that returns Seib’s painting to its ‘Delirious’ motif and to Michael Jackson. On Prince’s record cover, the picture book Seib reproduces in the painting is left blank. Here the tincture of a composition can be made out: Seib re-imagines Prince painting Koon’s pop porcelain sculpture, his fingers holding the light switch. Seib provocatively captures a moment before action, leaving us to wonder: will he switch it off?

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