Challenging the culture of consumerism through her work, Katharina Arndt’s art provides an ironic and stark commentary to the world we live in. We sat down with the artist to talk about the mini series she created for Her Clique, about what inspires her as an artist, and the role that social media plays in society.
Her Clique: How does the series you created for Her Clique reinforce or challenge your other, recent work?
Katharina Arndt: I draw what I see. The themes which I most commonly explore in my work pertain to the consumer society in the digital age, specifically decadence and superficiality. I see a lot of that, for example, at the beach promenade in Barcelona, where I spend a lot of time. There are a lot of skaters, joggers, and tourists indulging in and portraying a certain lifestyle, on the one hand seemingly idyllic, on the other hand trendy, and thus in many ways superficial.
HC: Does this series provide social or perhaps political commentary?
KA: Through my work I try to show the viewer the fakeness of social media, from the superficiality of material things, to our own construction of morals and values. Don’t get me wrong, I am not judging them as bad or worse - I am as much a part of the world which I portray. I love the beach, I love simple pleasures like sun tanning, I like shopping and I think about it all. In my work, I try to capture the thin line between adoring these simple pleasures, while at the same time providing an ironic commentary so as to distance oneself and allow room for self-reflection.
HC: Who are some of your favorite artists and why?
KA: I am in love with Rose Wylie and Denis Rudolf Frank. Both female painters inspired by everyday life, who paint with a certain rough texture in their work. Very cool. I love works by Sally Kindberg. And certainly Tamara Malcher - fantastic female figuration!
HC: Do you think artists have a social or moral responsibility?
KA: An artist is not a politician. Art is allowed to be everything: pleasing, ugly, loud, or just aesthetic. I don’t think that the role of art is to find ready solutions. The viewer should draw his or her own conclusions. Ideally, the confrontation with an artwork should help the audience see a different point of view or to look at familiar topics but from a different, new perspective.
HC: Do you think artists these days have to be to an extent (digital) influencers?
KA: I think we don’t have to be or do anything. Personally I am happy to be on social media, because without it my reach would not be as broad and global.
HC: Do you think that you face more challenges as a female artist?
KA: Unfortunately, yes. As a woman, I was raised to be rather nice and adaptable. I demand less, negotiate more gently, I am afraid of attracting negative attention. And the result is that after 20 years I am cheaper and less well represented in the art market than my male counterparts. I think for true equality to happen, we need a few more generations of proper education and strong female role models across all industries.
HC: What made you decide to become an artist?
KA: My mom was a strong influence, we always painted or did something creative when I was growing up. I still have a painting from her in my kitchen I look at every day! So becoming anything other than an artist was never really an option. I studied Fine Arts at the Braunschweig University of Art and completed my master’s degree in 2006 under the guidance of the Swiss artist John Armleder - a strong influence as well with his focus on the aesthetics of consumerism.
HC: What’s the medium you feel most comfortable with and what’s a new medium you’d like to explore?
KA: I am really good at drawing and feel very comfortable working with markers or coloring pencils. I started painting seriously a couple years ago and there is still a lot to discover and learn. In June, I bought an airbrush machine. This extends my visual repertoire with adding a softer touch, in addition to lines, areas of color and brush textures. I am quite excited about this new direction!
HC: What are some events that you are looking forward to?
KA: I am very happy with my two current shows. One group show titled “Needful Things” that I curated together with the painter Paul Pretzer, which focuses on still life. It runs until September 5th, 2021 at Uxval Gochez Gallery in Barcelona (follow the link for more info - https://katharina-arndt.com/needful-things/). I have another solo show coming up at Uxval Gochez Gallery titled “Forever YOUNG” as part of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend, opening on September 15th, 2021. I am also proud of my current solo show “Private BEACH,” which runs through September 12th, 2021 in Bad Gastein as part of the art-festival sommer.frische.kunst (follow the link for more info - https://katharina-arndt.com/sommer-frische-kunst/).