Paintings by Katerina Sakkas

by Michelle

Rotunda, acrylic on linen

Katerina Sakkas’ paintings are unique and arresting in their subjective narratives. The anecdotal and the familiar cross boundaries with the strange, the oneiric suggesting a watershed between dream and reality; it’s the hidden disorder that these images evoke. House, garden, branch and rose are emblematic of a fragmented past, structuring nature. Memory becomes the site where logic, chronicity and clarity dissolve into the surreal. In “Rotunda,” landscapes of inner and outer, of self and Other, heimlich and unheimlich merge behind vermiculate branches, the perspective fractured, overrun and outgrown by time. Yet the colours are gentle, their blue-black abstractions outside of dimension; the shadows and brush strokes are lyrical.

Ellipsis is used to disrupt the conventions of realism: in the painting “Bradleys Head,” the object of the angled gaze, if elevated, is absent. While the title alerts us to a place, specifically the bushland close to where the artist grew up, the figure’s emotional and psychic space becomes the focus. Her feminist portrayals complicate the gendered identity of subjects. In “Hands” the absence of flower head inserts narrative into the visual element, which becomes a meditation on touch, force, dexterity, trace. Like the paintings of the Swedish artist Meta Isaeus- Berlin, in this series, the material and the psychic are inseparable.

Bradleys Head, oil on linen

Memory Head, oil on linen

“Memory Head” is a portrait of the artist’s mother, taking its inspiration from Arthur Fleischmann’s oracular “I Wish” statue located in the Sydney Botanic Gardens. It’s also a tribute to her father’s paintings and sculptures of her mother. Sakkas cites her influences as being varied, ranging from British modernists Lucien Freud and Frank Auerbach to the disturbing work of the Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum and to the author/painter Kit Williams, of Masquerade fame. Inspired by horror films, she has developed a somewhat cinematic approach to the creation of images.

Katerina’s paintings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions. In 2008 she curated an exhibition on the theme of repetition at Mary Place Gallery, Sydney. Her work was recently published as the cover image of Cordite Poetry Review’s Zombie 2.0 issue. She is currently working on a horror-themed graphic novel.