Kathrin Longhurst was born in communist East Germany. A classically trained figurative painter, she began attending life drawing classes at the age of fourteen. When she was just fifteen, her family escaped from ‘behind the iron curtain’, relocating to Sweden. This jarring transition from a totalitarian regime to a democracy sparked Kathrin’s passion for exploring the concepts of freedom of speech and expression, concepts that continue to thread through her work today.
After travelling widely throughout Europe, Asia and America, Kathrin settled in Sydney with her Australian husband. She went on to work prolifically, showing her first solo exhibition in 2004 and becoming well known for her portraits of beautiful, scantily clad women in military attire, draped with symbols of communist propaganda.
Extensive travel provided Kathrin with a unique perspective on the role of women in the media, her more recent works referencing not only communist propaganda but also the power of advertising in our lives under a capitalist system. Her skillfully rendered subjects layer themes of sexuality and freedom, both seducing and challenging the viewer with their ruby lips, luminous bare skin and confronting gaze to illustrate her message that:
‘Propaganda is all around us. It’s not specific to a period of time, a country or a regime…it’s everywhere’.
A well-respected member of the Sydney arts community, Kathrin served as vice president for Portrait Artists Australia for some years and is currently founder and director of the innovative Project 504, an art space that fosters collaboration between emerging and established Australian artists. She completed her tenth solo show in 2014 and has been a finalist in numerous awards including the prestigious 2012 Sulman Prize, the Mosman Art Prize, the Portia Geach Award, the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Prize, the Korea Australia Arts Foundation Prize and the WA Black Swan Prize. Her work is collected widely in Australia and internationally.