Katinka Lampe's uncanny portraits draw from media images to explore identity construction. Her works render the sitter anonymous through techniques ranging from Baroque candlelight portraiture to symbolic staging with ornamental accessories and garments.Read More
Lampe's portraits of young female subjects often begin as photographs inspired by fashion magazines and media images. Showing sitters posing with distant gazes, the portraits offer subtle commentaries on contemporary society and popular culture.
For the 2013 exhibition Wannabe, the artist retrieved images from the Internet to address the phenomenon of child beauty pageants. The paintings on show capture young models with shy or defiant gazes under soft light wearing tiaras, red dresses, and headpieces, evoking the glamour and playfulness associated with pageant events.
Lampe's 2018 exhibition Let's Change History featured a series of portraits that explored identity and origins, inspired by the diversity of Lampe's hometown, Rotterdam.
Informed by the writing of academic Herman Pleij and the idea that identity derives from shared narratives, works like 6080187 (2018), in which a young woman with fair skin and pale hair is depicted with eyes closed, shows a curious blend of impersonal yet idiosyncratic sitters.
Titled with successions of numbers, the procession of young female subjects, ranging from Lampe's daughter and niece to models and actresses, are veiled in a layer of anonymity. Looking towards or away from viewers, the subjects effectively become a mirror of emotional states or a catalyst for audiences to reflect on their personal experiences.
The soothing portraits from the 2020 exhibition Slow feature the same young female faces with their heads titled back, completely unaware of being looked at and immersed in repose. With this series, Lampe wanted to express the need for greater self-reflection in a world facing escalating conflict, prompting viewers to take a step back and listen.
Slow equally alluded to the artist's own meticulous process: first photographing a composition, Lampe then cuts out and draws the image on paper, before building the final work on canvas through up to ten layers of paint.
Anima Mundi, held at Workplace, London in 2022, presented paintings that offered an unconventional framing of their subjects, who are cropped or depicted from unnatural angles to shift attention away from the identity of the sitter towards the formal language of the painting.
Inspired by chiaroscuro and the candlelight portraiture of Baroque artists like Georges de La Tour, Lampe's use of light and shadow stage the subject in highly artificial scenes accented by the eye-catching garments and jewellery selected by the artist.