Stockholm-based painter and graduate of Umeå Art Academy, Katrin Westman debuted with her first solo exhibition "Disrobement" at Gallery Andersson Sandström last year which made for one of the most compelling and rebellious dispays of art seen in the year. Adopting a tentative approach of expanding the scope of painting towards sculpture, we summed the exhibition up by her "forceful yet poised gestures guilded with delectable colours that offer an unlikely but accomplished visual coherence". Below Katrin Westman shares a few thoughts on her artistic practice, stressing her strive to free herself from set positions in order to approach painting on a closer and intimate level.
I see the notion of desire and force as omnipresent in my artistic work and what I do in the studio, as was the case with my first solo exhibition with Galleri Andersson Sandström in Stockholm. I think of force both in the sense of being pulled towards something for a closer inspective view but as well the force to act on a feeling and to create. As for desire, I link it to the visual reading of an artwork and how art is approached with one’s gaze as a viewer. How you approach something comes down to assuming various positions from which you regard an object or subject and by extension it’s then a question of power. My first exhibition was titled Avhängda mantlar ("Disrobement") which is the act of omitting and dethroning power. Power as a symbolic figure of speech is represented in the room, on the walls, and you can choose how you to relate to it. For me what I strive for is to approach painting on an intimate and close level, to surprise myself with a sense of novelty. In order for that you have to free yourself, steer away from set positions which is when something new emerges and happens before your eyes.
It was liberating to leave art school behind, the time which followed has been intense and in some ways painful but obviously fun and very rewarding as well. I feel like I've changed and that my work has too through being pushed by myself. There’s a constant power battle you go through in terms of the command you adopt in your process. On the one hand you have to let your process lead you forward, give in to it and see where it takes you and on the other there comes a point where you have wrap your hand around it and take charge actively. And control it. In the past I was painting much on photographic paper so it’s only in recent time that I’ve started taking to canvas which was almost an agonizing change to me who have always loved hard sliding surfaces. The daunting aspect to the process with canvas was this restrained and near “stiff” condition that comes with the material, framing and suspension; the tradition that revolves around it. From a certain view it is the opposite of freedom. However, what happened in the process of change is just this thing I’m looking for, an artistic revelation and moving past a level of intimidation and fear. Now I absolutely love it. Something I presented in my first exhibition alongside works on the walls were what I called mussles; paintings folded cylindrically and suspended with construction straps and positioned right in midst of the floor. I think that arose from seeking a resistance, a crossroad that forces you to rethink and reposition. If I allow myself to be brutal and unsparing with my work, in a figurative sense, I feel as if I am essentially distancing myself enough emotionally to a start, to really pave way to get closer to painting in the process.
Katrin Westman's work "Bended Needs" is currently on view at Uppsala Konsert & Kongress in collaboration with Uppsala Konstmuseum, through October 29.
Katrin Westman's work is represented by Galleri Andersson Sandström in Stockholm,
All images courtesy of Gallery Andersson Sandström
To learn more about Katrin Westman, visit: