#queerart #artactivism #femaleartist @carlosbob
Born in America, Sydney-based Kim Leutwyler migrated to Australia in 2012. She works in a variety of media including painting, installation, ceramics, printmedia and drawing. Leutwyler holds concurrent bachelor degrees in Studio and Art History from Arizona State University, and additionally graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Painting and Drawing degree.
Some of Leutwyler's recent accolades include being selected as a finalist in the Archibald, Sulman and Black Swan Art Prizes, the Churchie national emerging art prize as well as the Portia Geach Memorial Award. Her artwork has been exhibited in multiple galleries and museums throughout Australia and the United States.
SHOP Saatchi Online
How has social media come into play with your artwork?
I have been extremely frustrated by social media as of late, particularly because of the constant censorship I face on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. My work has been removed several times despite the fact that nudity in artwork adheres to their community guidelines. Ultimately social media allows me to reach new audiences, sell my paintings/prints and interact directly with people around the world, so the pros outweigh the cons...for now.
What concept or narrative is behind your work?
I create figurative portrait paintings of LGBTQ-identified and Queer-allied women. My work toys with the concepts of glorification, objectification and modification, touching on the mutability of gender and beauty. I have come to focus on painting because of its primarily masculine history in the western art canon.
How much time does it take to create an artwork?
Some days I wake up inspired to paint and head straight in to the studio (in my home) before brushing my teeth or getting dressed. I completely zone out and forget the world for hours before realising that I haven't eaten or had a coffee! Works vary between 1-5 days to complete. Because a I have a full-time job I generally paint for 8-12 hours one day a week, so certain works can often take over one month to finish.
Do you ever venture out of your creative process to try out new things?
Sometimes I like to make a really bad piece of art. I think about the artwork that I enjoy least when visiting museums and galleries, when listening to music or reading a piece of writing I strongly dislike. I ask myself what subject matter, material, style, colors or composition really gets under my skin? Then I try to incorporate all of those gloriously terrible elements into a single, horrific piece of art. This allows me to experiment, trying things I would never attempt on my finished work.
Who is your art crush?
I have so many art crushes, but right now I have a major art crush on Kit King. She is a Bahamian Canadian contemporary artist who creates masterful hyperrealistic portrait paintings. I reach out to her periodically for technical painting advice and to share positive feedback about her work. I’ve never been a huge fan of realism unless it brings something completely new to the table and elicits more questions than answers, and Kit King’s work does exactly that! She explores gender, beauty, identity and the human form, often cutting and reconstructing her works to create a new narrative. Her paintings have been exhibited in galleries and museums internationally- showing throughout Canada and the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. King has won several awards, and is a four time people's choice winner of Canada's Portrait competition -The Kingston Prize. I can’t wait to see what she makes next.
What inspires you?
Nature provides a ton of inspiration for me, particularly when it comes to contemplating themes of gender, identity and the mutability of life. You can often find me climbing mountains, wandering through national parks and diving at the bottom of the ocean.
I am very inspired by art historical texts, as well as my frequent visits to museums and galleries. I get my best ideas while looking at other people's work. Having been an Art History major, research is integral to my practice.
Which was your breakthrough piece? Tell us more about it.
My breakthrough piece was a portrait of my friend Ollie Henderson from back in 2015. The painting was accepted as a finalist in the Archibald Prize, a major portraiture exhibition in Australia that has national acclaim both inside and outside of the art world. Ollie Henderson is an activist, designer and one of Australia’s top models. Aged just 29, she has received global recognition for founding the fashion label and youth empowerment project House of Riot, which uses fashion as a vehicle for encouraging young people to start productive conversations about social change in Australia. As a feminist member of the LGBTQ community, Ollie publicly speaks about the objectification inherent to a career in modeling, and the unrealistic modification of images that sets unattainable standards of beauty.
When the painting was accepted into the Archibald Prize my art career took a dramatic shift. I was being interviewed by major news outlets, made several TV appearances and had my work plastered on signs and trains around the city of Sydney. It was a game changer, and I am enjoying the ride while working my ass off to keep creating portraits of badass queer people.