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During the Cold War, the Soviet Bloc and the West were separated in various ways but probably none so dramatically as the Berlin Wall. Erected in 1961, it separated East and West Germans for 28 years.  

Kathrin Longhurst was born on the eastern side of that wall and experienced, first-hand, what life was like behind the Iron Curtain. It was a life that would influence the direction of her work as an artist many years later.  

A figurative painter and a feminist, her work often parodies the Communist propaganda art which she would see in the streets in East Berlin – but instead of images of triumphant soldiers and workers, she would depict strong, defiant women using military imagery and female sexuality to brilliant effect. 

She also paints larger-than-life head and shoulder paintings – from the intense portrayals of children going through tough times in her Forging of a Human Spirit series to her current incredible work focussing on female refugees which were lining the walls of her studio when I met her.

Kathrin moved to Australia almost 20 years ago after meeting her Australian husband and became a full time artist in the early 2000s after a career in the corporate world.

She has exhibited in over 15 solo shows, has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize, Portia Geach Memorial Award, the Doug Moran National Portrait prize and many other prizes and her work is held in major collections in Australia and overseas.

To hear the podcast interview press ‘play’ beneath the above feature photo. You can also see a short video of Kathrin Longhurst below and on the Talking with Painters YouTube channel .

Above feature Photo by Bernie Meyers @breeze.pics

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Show Notes

‘Self: past present and future’, 2018,’ oil on canvas, 180 x 180cm
Finalist Archibald Prize 2018
‘Mariama’, 2019, oil on linen, 180x180cm
Finalist Portia Geach Memorial Award, 2019
Poster Girl, 2011, oil on canvas
Finalist Portia Geach Memorial Award, 2011
‘Grenade girl’, 2015, oil on canvas, 92x122cm 
Finalist Sir John Sulman prize, 2015
‘Ode to Feminism’, 2018, triptych, oil on canvas, 180 x 540cm (see below for individual panels)
The Bennett Collection of Women Realists (USA)
‘Ode to Feminism’, 2018, panel 1 of triptych, oil on canvas, 180 x 180cm
‘Ode to Feminism’, 2018, panel 2 of triptych, oil on canvas, 180 x 180cm
‘Ode to Feminism’, 2018, panel 3 of triptych, oil on canvas, 180 x 180cm
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4 thoughts on “Ep 79: Kathrin Longhurst

  1. Rachel Jones

    Knowing how her background really influences the work was insightful. Interesting also was the fine line Kathrin had to walk when it came to painting her own story/history and how it would be viewed by public as possibly offensive or politically incorrect for a time. It obviously didn’t stifle her creativity, but a bit paradoxical. Very enjoyable.

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  2. Pat Whittle

    So loved this podcast: the glimpse into what it was like to live in East Berlin, her willingness to dialogue with those of differing views, and to top it off Beautiful paintings. TWP is so interesting to me. It is about so much more than paint and being an artist. It is about fascinating people and their lives.

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