For Rousseau

For Rousseau

Digital Photography, Portrait, Nude, Human figure, Mixed technique, 130x92cm
Series: Paint
Size: 92 x 130, Edition 8
Size: 30 x 43, Edition 15

Katerina Belkina first came to public attention in 2006 with her series Paint, in which while the viewer perceives the works on the one hand as recognizable, an intimate game is also simultaneously being played with the tension between artist and model.

She draws her inspiration for these twelve works from her favourite artists of the 19th and 20th centuries with whom she has struck a sort of alliance in the sense of both painting technique and concept. As muse, by putting herself in the position of model and as painter through identifying with the artist himself. She speaks of an almost erotic relationship where the physical and the spiritual converge. She considers these works to be an homage to the artists: I was gripped by an urge not so much to indiscriminately imitate the Master, but rather to dive into his innermost core, to experience what had driven him, what had inspired him. Before starting on any of the works, I studied them down to the last detail. It is a sort of gift from me to my favourite artists, is how she puts it herself.

We can recognise a Picasso in his blue period, spot a ballerina by Degas, bump into the Suprematism of Malevich and the mysterious jungle of Rousseau le Douanier, the unapproachableness of Frida Kahlo, or the cool seduction of Tamara de Lempicka. And Belkina herself can match the sensual submission and decorative beauty of Schiele and Klimt‘s models. We see again a profound conceptual engagement of artist and person; this is no superficial self-portrait.

Recognition of the selected artists is immediate and insistent, but on closer inspection there is no indication that Belkina has copied a specific painting by one of the Masters; in each case she has created a new image in which the style and the atmosphere of the artist are seen. She has painted the works that demonstrate the pictorial style of the chosen Master BEFORE making the photograph. This leaves us in absolutely no doubt as to Katerina Belkina‘s background: trained as a painter and painting with her camera.

Text by Marike van der Knaap, Art Historian

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