Passion Painting: Katharina Ziemke

I met with the fabulous Berlin-based painter Katharina Ziemke in her Potsdamer Strasse studio. Her work exudes the light of a peculiar and fascinating atmosphere. The studio is very neat and well organized. Katharina says it’s always like this, but a little bit more because of the studio visit. She’s preparing a solo show for the upcoming Drawing Now Fair in Paris.

KatharinaZiemke- Walter Yeo-2011-oil on canvas-50x40cm

The Rhythm of the World


Today, I won’t cut the cheese is five, or turn around the pot. Katharina’s practice is all about putting your hands in the dough, which is pretty paradoxical considering that her practice is so delicate and refined. Through a simple yet unusual combination of techniques, she experiments with the matter and the colored surfaces. For a few years now, Ziemke has been working mostly on papers of various thicknesses. This material was preferred as it provides a specific physicality to the work. On a canvas, the weft of the fabric offers a surface that creates abstraction, the thickness of the frame turns the space of the painting into a space of its own.


Ziemke is very aware of the old principle of ‘the painting as a window’, this statement has had different meanings throughout the art history. I take it as it is: it allows you to see a space where you can’t really go, alternatively a space where you are but no really. Very clear, right? I ain’t no philosopher, just a simple painter.

On paper, the work becomes an object carrying its own reality. It offers a surface that is smoother and thinner at once, one could say that it is a cold media, that draws you into it.


Katharina Ziemke’s practice is pushing boundaries of reality through a borderline use of the colored material. Borderline in the saturation of the colors, but also in the chemical sense, as she juxtaposes layers of not mixable materials, like watercolor + oil pastels, or wax sticks + thick super oily pastels. The metaphysical part of her work is gained through a knowledge of the material, leading the viewer to an analyze of the chemical nature of the thoughts. It is nearly not functioning, like the skeleton of a girafe, but on the high-density surface emerges a world, mesmerizing and nearly impossible.


Katharina Ziemke’s practice is pushing boundaries of reality through a borderline use of the colored material.


What she represents is another question. Her image bank comes from various sources. When I visited, she was working on a stunning drawing representing the composer Arnold Schöneberg. The original image was found during some serendipity research about his music. When she founds a good image, Ziemke describes a specific feeling, as Pina Bausch said: ‘It is a very specific feeling’. In this image, the light and shadows are creating a living scene. The composition is very simple, yet the shadow becomes like a second character in the picture.


While working on an image, Katharina Ziemke is not only representing, she is indeed creating a reality, a very own and precise space that exists ‘for real’. As often in good art, there’s a big difference between the images reproduced on internet or some paper and the real life thing. This is of course to encourage you readers to check out real painting.


PASSION PAINTING offers a simple and personal insight into the contemporary painting ‘scene’ by the Berlin and Normandy based painter Fleur Helluin.