Kateryna Bortsova: repositioning reality

Hands outstretched, connecting through overlapping narratives. Through art we are able to translate parts of the world. Ukrainian painter Kateryna Bortsova finds ways to make space to question her understanding of the world through visual compositions. Through paint, she designs her own characters to play roles in this dialogue.

The image of a body

Kateryna talks to me about how her art is in conversation with subjects of consumption as well as the human condition. For instance, the figures in her paintings are often nude. Kateryna explains how focusing on the body in this exposed position is less about sexualising the body and more about separating the body from the objects that it accumulates. Hence, speaking through an elusive grin, Kateryna emphasizes how ‘you don’t have pockets in the grave.’

The figures that appear in Kateryna’s paintings embody a theatrical presence. Still, there appears to be a display of emotional vulnerability that is embraced by these figures. They do not attempt to hide their connections and responses to the world. In these works, the dramatic images are composed to directly confer with religious iconography. Kateryna uses this as a vehicle to explore visual narrative, using historical painting characteristics, in a more contemporary style and setting. The paintings make connections to how these historically symbolic images are used in today’s world. These visuals are often used as marketing strategy in advertisement campaigns.

Reshaping perceptions

In Kateryna’s piece Adoration, the artist reimagines the iconic image of Christ’s crucifixion. The painting projects a scene of a reshaped cross with several nude people in states of mourning and despair. Through this, the artist subjects viewers to think about how easily a familiar image can alter our perception through a repositioning. Thus, causing us to confront how commercialism influences us. This link provokes a broader questioning of the ethics and perspective involved in the use and capitalisation of art.

The use of bodies as subject is particularly poignant in present topics of equity and discrimination. The body and the politics of representation are increasingly significant topics in art. Art can be both a reflection on our societies, as well as a tool to dismantle these structures. In this way, the policing of bodies; stemming from learnt prejudices, (including race, class, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexuality…) are themes threaded throughout all aspects of wider culture. In her art, Kateryna hopes to bring the focus back to human nature and how we see ourselves and our actions in the world.


The artist works mainly with paint and found objects. Kateryna’s process is intuitive, sometimes directly using found objects to talk about human consumption and materialism. This is to provoke those experiencing her work to think and connect more personally with their relationship to materials in their everyday. Her use of objects, such as nails or knifes, is purposefully applied to create an emotive response. With this, Kateryna hopes that people will stop for a minute and think about the connections we each have with certain objects.


In 2016, Kateryna began a series, creating paintings that focused on the turbulence of migration. She painted figures on maps that focused on movement of the body. In this series, entitled Self-propulsion, the artist translates the turmoil of migration due to lack of safety. Now, only a few years later, Kateryna has a more personal insight into this experience. She reflects on how it is a strange feeling to be continuing this series of work while now seeking refuge. There is a sense of surrealism when connecting with the time and space of the paintings. Moreover, the figures are propelling somehow in a transitional place. These images are evocative in their ability to capture unsettling feelings, alongside resilience and hope within the figures. Likewise, we see that this must lead to change.

written by Kate Lafferty

Keep up to date with Kateryna’s work on her website. As a International resident, her work can be seen in the upcoming PK events.

Deeply Pelusa Life

Sat 20 Aug 7PM

Performance 8PM

Tue 23 – Sat 27 Aug

Alte Handelsschule
Giesserstr 75

Dreamy Cube Curve

Sat 17 Sept 7PM

Performance 8PM
I am where you are

18, 20, 21 Sept

Franz-Flemming-Str 9

Moving surreal curiosity
PK & Friends potluck plus open studio

Fri 27 May
7-10PM PK & Friends
8PM anverso performance

Sat 28 May
4-8PM open studio
6PM anverso
7PM Eugene Buldyk 

Dark Hope Respite

Sat 18 June

19-22 June

PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Str 9