Katja Seib’s paintings are distinctive. She was born in Dusseldorf and graduated from the Kunstacademie in 2016. Her paintings are figurative and some are serene and dream-like (the best in my opinion), while others verge on a kind of gothic Guignol.
Dream and Forgetting (image 1)
shows a dark figure lying sprawled on a bed, on top of a greyish blanket which flows towards us like lava. Above him what must be a dream image appears with surreal clarity on a screen like a TV monitor. It shows a white Mustang-like American car stranded in an indeterminate landscape while a small female figure is shown fleeing towards us. And instead of Tarot cards in Reality and Dream (image 2)
we get a mobile phone placed on the checked tablecloth.
Things get a lot nastier in You made your bed, now sleep in it. (image 3)
Firstly the woman lying on the bed is menaced a giant rolling pin, manned by brawny arms, apparently about to crush her skull to smithereens. Even more alarming though is the bundle in her stomach, which comprises a woman clutching the mane of a twisting bull. This is a copy of a Jugendstijl painting and must refer to the myth of Europa, in which Zeus was so captivated by a young girl that he took the form of a bull in order to lure her into allowing him to carry her off.
In almost every painting there is at least one snake. They twine themselves around wrists or drape around heads. Why (image 4)
shows a realistic and beautifully marked snake wending its way gently over three panels. You don’t notice at first that its head has been chopped off. There are quite a few unpleasant surprises in Seib’s work ¬- but there is no denying its power.
Katja Seib ‘dear diary’ is at Sadie Coles at 1 Davies Street, London W1K 3DB until 6 January.