Katja Seib

The Smell of Hollywood, 2016

Oil on Canvas

160 x 160 cm


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Artwork
Description

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Narratives of desire are central to Katja Seib’s works. Created using a labour intensive method involving the smoothing of hessian cloth with several layers of rabbit glue and chalk, the resultant works display a complex and alluring visual vocabulary.

In ‘The Smell of Hollywood’, a half-naked woman with her back turned to the audience is seen looking out of a window at the famous Hollywood Sign, while a man in a hat grasps her shoulder intimately. He engages in a sensuous yet unusual act, smelling the woman’s armpit, a detail that playfully makes sense of the work’s title. The foreground is overwhelmed with indoor greenery; a tentacle-like plant on the right obscures parts of the pictorial frame while another one on the left echoes the green of the flowery wallpaper. A hand with a tattoo of a bulldog emerges from the side of the screen, announcing a third presence that seems to be watching the couple through the plants; this could even be the hand of the viewer, incorporated into the work as a reminder that by looking at this painting, the audience is complicit in a voyeuristic act.

Colour is an important part of Seib’s practice; by mixing her own pigments to be thick or thin, she controls the emotional intensity of her works. The dank tones of the European-style interior jars with the peaceful lilac hues of LA on view outside the window. A sense of claustrophobia pervades the painting, evoking a longing to escape this almost oneiric world to live a better life outside of the domestic setting depicted.

About
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
exhibition

November 10th, 2016 until
February 11th, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER