Tag Archives: female painter

Artist Spotlight: Zara June Williams

Life is like a game. The Australian artist Zara June Williams explores the unexpected and the intuitive of the creative process. Approaches such as combining different individual paintings and interacting with remain marks and droplets of the paint allow her to view the familiarity with a new lens. She invents rules for her art-making and stays playful with the colours and forms. Her art practice seemingly parallels to the nature of life as a game, where we developed regulations and strategies, and laboriously invest ourselves into it.

“Sometimes I get so caught up in the complexity of it all that it ends up seeming like nothing. That’s how I feel about being alive in general. It’s everything, but it’s meaningless.”

Zara’s paintings come across as a game of vertigo and chance. Roger Caillois introduced the four elements of game in his 1958 Man, Play and Games (Les Jeux et Les Hommes): Agon, Alea, Mimicry and Ilinx, which means competition, chance, simulation and vertigo respectively. Intrigued by the remains of the process, she lies down papers beneath her paintings to catch the drops. “I guess I speak a lot about chance.” Often she wonders whether it is the unintended trace or her paintings are the actual work. “I think the interest came from questioning the ego and control. I found I was no longer satisfied with outcomes that I could easily anticipate.” 

To add the unpredictable quality into her work, she sets up certain parameters and games. For example, she took a cluster of wooden frames found on street which resonance Jose Dávila’s “Homage to the Square,” and lands it randomly on the surface. She then paints between the edges of the frames and repeats the process of interacting with the unintended composition of structures.”It is like I allow someone else to do something that I have to respond to.” Zara is meanwhile interested in working with found materials which already come with a character she can react to.

Her captivation of inviting chance to interfere with the work rises from the desire for the sense of an instant novelty. Ilinx,the Greek word for “whirlpool,” means the alteration of recognition, which Caillois defined as “an attempt to momentarily destroy the stability of perception.” “Assemblages is another way I can surprise myself from the outcome.” She cuts her paintings into half and plays around by putting different pieces together. “Cutting and reassembling works allows new and complete images to form instantaneously. There is a freshness to this method that I enjoy.” 

During the residency, Zara has started to experiment with integrating photography and painting. She takes pictures of her works, collages them in photoshop, and then transfers the resulting image on another painting. “Photography is potentially another tool I can use to accumulate information to the point of collapse. Finding ways to digest chaos created by my own doing is an ongoing challenge.” 

Written by Huai-ya Lin

See Zara’s work in the upcoming exhibitions


Saturday 17 August 

Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig


Friday 20 September
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist Spotlight: Izdihar Afyouni

There is no such thing as passive spectatorship in the work of Palestinian artist Izdihar Afyouni. She explores dualities such as subjugation and agency, violence and eroticism, abjection and subjectivity. Complex narratives emerge. They present disenfranchised subjects; women, prisoners, migrants and refugees. But her viewers are not any more confronted with these narratives as they subjected to them. At times, she will employ processes of unconscious identification in order to provoke a psychological response. Others, she will creative immersive participatory performances which facilitate feelings of (consensual) discomfort. Through these means, alienation and biologically sanctioned injustice is literally enacted upon the bodies of the viewers themselves.

Izdihar was classically trained in academic figural drawing and recently completed her MA in Art and Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. Although primarily working on large-scale paintings, she operates as a multi-disciplinary artist and independent curator. Both politically and psychologically engaged with understanding the body, Izehar is specifically interested in individuals who have been subjugated and experienced abjection.

Abjection was popularised by Julia Kristeva in her work Powers of Horror. Building upon the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Jaques Lacan, the term refers to the separation between the self and ‘other’. This is derived from cultural narratives of horror or discrimination, it is the state of being ‘cast off’. Izdihar is fascinated in intense forms of abjection, manifested in decades of trauma. She says that this occurs when horror becomes the only language you know how to speak, when war becomes your ‘psychological currency’.

Describing her practice as research-led, she will begin with a concept and develop it theoretically. However, at times the concept will develop with the work itself. This is especially true for her paintings.  For they speak a pictorial language which transcends what the written word can express alone.

Stylistically, she considers herself a figeral painter, an abstract expressionist and a contemporary Surrealist. But we’re not talking about the dream imagery of Salvador Dali. It’s a Surrealism for a more contemporary age; one which is imbued with a so called ‘horror aesthetic’. Much of her paintings induce nightmarish qualities, only amplified by the grandiose scale which is intended to dwarf the spectator. Izehar will at times use her own blood, ground into the paint.

Blood has particular symbolic pertinence to her practice, not only for it’s festishistic properties, but in its connection to real people. In her on-going series and curatorial project Thicker Than Blood,Izdihar looks at the impact of state policies and bio-surveillance measures which regulate free movement, bodies and individual agency. In the initial instalment, which took place in a London Dungeon, viewers gained entry into the space upon providing a small sample of their blood. Their experience of the piece was then contingent on the amount of white blood cells shown in their results. While some viewers were treated to a performance, others were subjected to an interrogation. But there was a method to the cruelty. The oeuvre is intended to draw attention to the ethical and psychological ramifications of racial and genetic profiling.

During her time at PILOTENKUECHE residency, Izdihar has returned to painting. For the group’s first show at Kunstkraftwerk, she created a triptych entitled ‘She’s A Cult’. The piece is inspired by the early Italian Baroque painter Artemisia and art-historical interpretations of female violence. Artemesia is today considered one of the foremost progressive painters of her generation. In an era when women were largely excluded from the male-dominated community of artists and patrons, she has been hailed by art critics as representing the rhetoric of the  ‘power of women’. Through a direct re-imagining of Artemisia’s ‘Judith slaying Holofernes’, Izdihar sought to highlight similar contemporary paradigms of displacement with regard to the continued exclusion of women from artistic discourse.

For the group’s final exhibition ‘Wrestling with Impermanence’, She completed another large scale painting exploring a sustained pre-occupation with the figure of the abject.

Written by: Ellisha Walkden


Elsewhere a Blue Line and the Absurdity of a Ghost on a Stone 

Open: Sun 19 – Sun 2 June 2019, 10AM – 6PM (closed Mondays)
Location: Kunstkraftwerk, Saalfelder Str. 8, 04179 Leipzig

Wrestling with Impermanence 

Vernissage: Fri 21 June 2019, 7PM
Open: Sat 22 – Wed 26 June 2019 1PM-5PM
Location: PILOTENKUECHE, 2nd Floor, Franz-Flemming-Str. 9, 04179 Leipzig, Germany

Artist Spotlight: Elisabeth Kraus

Sometimes the moral duty of the artist, whether conscious or not, is to wrestle with the soul of society and the pitfalls of human nature. Often we deal with larger issues by turning inward and examining our inner worlds. In this case, the inner world of current Pilotenkueche resident Elisabeth Kraus is rich with analysis, emotion and playful exploration. In the last few years she has been on a winding path led by intuition, pursuing art inspired adventures across the globe. Most recently this path has landed her in Leipzig, a burgeoning cultural hub.

Elisabeth’s inquisitive spirit seeps into her practice through the themes and motifs she engages in as well as through the mediums she experiments with. This means she is constantly analyzing and searching, always observing and at times simply waiting. Her works encompass themes of societal responsibility, nature and humanity, and human nature in some of its most extreme forms. The common thread that keeps her engaged is the power of empathy as a catalyst for change. The result of this mixture of inspiration and analysis is a broad spectrum ranging from sculpture and sound installation to conceptual pieces and performance, and, more recently, a return to painting. This all amounts to ‘creating a playground for all the senses’. This playground becomes the sensorial vocabulary through which Elisabeth communicates.

This kind of ‘playground’ also translates into a way of being. Through her extensive travels with an openness to surprise and a flexible sense of the meaning of home she has exhibited throughout Germany and has found a nurturing creative and social network in Beirut, where she connected with the Haven for Artists – a non-profit arts organization bolstering the underground art scene in Lebanon and the Middle East. At this safe space and residency she was able to settle a bit and create a meaningful network through which her art practice could thrive.

photos by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program

Several of the works that arise from Elisabeth’s idiosyncratic sensorial vocabulary take the form of interactive sculptural pieces. Most notably, a recurring project, are the small spheres she makes cast with an image of her face on them that fit snugly in the palm of one’s hand. They are meant to bounce around, move from hand to hand, and occasionally gaze into the participants eyes. The literal bouncing and transient nature of these balls becomes a direct metaphor for the nomadic lifestyle that Elisabeth has been living and all of the ups and downs that it entails. Many more of her works deal with more outward societal concerns. With the ways in which humans transmit knowledge and culture and how this is filtered, understood and absorbed.

During Elisabeth’s time with Pilotenkueche she will keep her spirit open to inspiration and continue investigating these recurring themes through her work while also experimenting with different media and processes. Upcoming, as well, is a collaborative sound installation piece on-site at Kunstraum Kesselhaus, in the artist’s hometown of Bamberg where she will be working with past collaborator and sound designer Paul Hauptmeier.

The expanse and depth of Elisabeth’s experimentation comes from a passion for knowledge, an openness of spirit and an inclination towards play. It is all of these traits that, when considered, become the portrait of a person looking for answers. Although certain questions may not be answered in the process, the right questions are being asked.

You can see Elisabeth’s work in the following Pilotenkueche International Art Program shows:

Elsewhere a Blue Line and the Absurdity of a Ghost on a Stone 

Vernissage: Sat 18 May 2019, 7PM
Open: Sun 19 – Sun 2 June 2019, 10AM – 6PM (closed Mondays)
Location: Kunstkraftwerk, Saalfelder Str. 8, 04179 Leipzig

Wrestling with Impermanence 

Vernissage: Fri 21 June 2019, 7PM
Open: Sat 22 – Wed 26 June 2019 1PM-5PM
Location: PILOTENKUECHE, 2nd Floor, Franz-Flemming-Str. 9, 04179 Leipzig, Germany
Performance: To be announced

Artist Spotlight: Ana Castillo

‘If I like the T-shirt I will just cut it!” – explains Ana, recklessly forgetting to add ‘out’ to the ‘cut’. Ana is our French-Spanish artist based in Paris. What is so interesting at first glance besides her working overalls, her accent and cool stance? When entering Ana’s studio, you immediately notice an obsession with image culture, particularly representation of youth, lifestyle, varieties of characters and attitudes from magazines and social media. Her sketchbook is filled with drawings of people of different backgrounds and, while drawn to representation of women in media, her characters are androgynous and masculine, singer and politicians, feminine and queer.

So, what does Ana do with these images? First, she becomes a collector. She cuts out pictures from magazines, her own photographs and from social media. She spreads them all over the table, then assembles them to create new images. As she transforms the collages, she interprets the surface and transforms their looks. Sometimes she places them in pictures of landscape, often ones that hearken back to her Spanish roots. Ana goes home to rest from the visual overload. She returns with fresh eyes to move them around again. Thus she never lets the “collection” stagnate. It is constantly altering to bring new relationships.

all photos by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program

The term collage was coined by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in the beginning of the 20th century when it became a distinctive part of modern art. Ana takes collage into the current century by treating it as a crucial working process. She creates a new reality which she re-interprets into painting, illustration or animated videos and GIFs. Hard-working but intuitive, playful but serious, with collage we are reminded of metaphoric pun as intellectual act. Image as product of a mind is born from not comparing two realities but rather getting them closer together.

Ana’s studio is a place where images grow and multiply. The table covered with cut out pictures juxtaposes two paintings and an orange background on the wall she has been working on simultaneously, while various photographs are opened on her laptop. Working in Pilotenkueche for Ana is not stylistically much different from working at home or in a rented studio in the City of lights. Only this time, neither she nor her painting are confined. What is new is the sense of freedom she gets in terms of spaciousness. Naturally, this reflects in her work in progress. She is aiming for larger paintings. For the upcoming exhibitions, we can expect to see paintings approaching monumental sizes. However, she will stay faithful to the appearance of a collage by avoiding the traditional, right-angled shapes of canvas.

Leipzig is, so we hear, not lacking young stylish people with attitude. During winter they hide themselves in cool bars and underground clubs, leaving the streets empty. Some of us will definitely follow Ana in her exploration of the techno scene here, enjoying the environment and in search for Leipzig characters for her new inspiration.

Written by Samra Šabanović


Come and see what Ana creates in the following shows:

Unfinished Hase

Vernissage:  15.02.19, 19h
Open:  16 – 23.02.19, 13 – 17h
Finissage: 23.02.19 19h
Alte Handelsschule, Gießerstraße 75, 04229 Leipzig, Germany

Fast Kotzen 

Vernissage:  23.03.19, 19h
Open:  24 – 27.03.19 17h-20h
Location: PILOTENKUECHE, 2nd Floor, Franz-Flemming-Str. 9, 04179 Leipzig, Germany