An Interview with Artist Kim Leutwyler
Bold, dazzling and beautiful. These are words I choose to describe Kim Leutwyler’s artwork.
The themes of Kim’s paintings, LGBTQ, gender, beauty and queer-identity, is consistent in her work, within the portraits that she paints. You can clearly see the passion and love that Kim has for her art. Vibrant portraits, nude and non-nude, tastefully presented in the female form; loving couples, intriguing portraits of nude women with dinosaur heads, portraits of women within a landscape setting or with a striking patterned or a bright and brilliant background. Her modernist style is scintillating. I feel a clear sense of ‘freedom’ in Kim’s artwork.
You can view Kim’s portfolio and contact her on her website http://kimleutwyler.com/home.html
Her original work can be purchased here
& in Australia
You can buy her prints
What do you feel has been your biggest inspiration and influences as an artist and why?
Robert Rauschenberg. I can’t explain it, but his ‘Collection’ combine painting was the first artwork that made me stop in a very crowded museum and stare for 45 minutes. I visually consumed it from every angle and digested it into my brain. The only other artist whose work has stopped me dead in my tracks that way is Ben Quilty. I also really enjoy works by Cecily Brown, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Jenny Saville, Margherita Manzelli and Romaine Brooks. There’s also a giant list of Australian artists who inspire me and we’ve built a great little community of support for one another both online and in person!
What message are you trying to get across with your artwork?
As an artist, I am very active in the LGBTQ+ community. I create figurative portrait paintings of LGBTQ-identified and Queer-allied women, most recently focusing on those who have impacted my life in some way. My work toys with the concepts of glorification, objectification, and modification, touching on the mutability of identity, gender and beauty.
As an artist what challenges have you faced because of the themes within your paintings?
Right now the biggest challenge I’ve set for myself is to capture even more diversity in my portraits. My current limitations are time and an ongoing quest to find more people who will allow me to paint them. I explore a very small percentage of the queer-identified and allied population in my work. Androgyny, body art, gender confirmation surgery and piercings are not uncommon among the people you see in my work. I hope that I get the opportunity to meet and paint an even larger and more diverse pool of the population in the near future. The ‘ideal’ female anatomy has changed over time, and I attempt to portray varying aesthetics that metamorphose based on age, race and geography and more. If you are reading this and are LGBTQ+ identified or believe in equality for everyone, I want to paint you. Please reach out 🙂
If you could talk to your younger self, who is just starting out in the art world, what advice would you give?
Put your work out there and take some big risks. Try something new and don’t let yourself be restricted by your medium. Surround yourself with people that you trust to provide open and honest feedback.
Describe your creative process, from start to finish?
Once someone has agreed to sit for me we meet up at my home or theirs and my partner takes thousands of photos while I sketch, ask them about colour and patterns they are drawn to and capture images of lighting or details I may want to reference later. If my sitter has the time and patience I’ll have them sit for me at the studio for a couple of hours. I find this particularly important if the subject is someone I haven’t spent a great deal of time with. I’m always staring at my friends analysing their faces for lines, colours and details which make them infinitely easier to paint! I don’t aim to create a photo-realistic rendering, but rather to convey my impression of the subject. The ‘underpainting’ usually takes 3-10 hours, after which the painting must dry. I then paint over the entire thing for another 3-20 hours until it feels finished.
What paintings of yours are your favourites and why?
They’ve all been my favourites at one point or another, but I generally favour the portraits of my wife:)
What goals do you have for the future?
I hope that my work can start a positive dialogue around equality, gender, and identity in both the feminist and mainstream art world. I want to champion people who are often marginalised by capturing their portrait and sharing one small part of what makes them unique with the world.