I’ve been lucky enough to meet and learn from many female artists, but there are also women artists who I’ve not met, but who I feel I have grown to know through their work. First among these women is Kathe Kollwitz.
Kollwitz was born in Russia, but moved to Berlin, she suffered from anxiety during her childhood. A socialist and a pacifist, Kollwitz was an artist of great social conscience, her work unflinchingly portrays the realities of poverty and war. Kollwitz was unafraid of confronting death as a theme in her work, she returned to it many times.
Her work informs my understanding of our current situation - the summer riots and regular protests, social inequality becoming daily harder to ignore, the gap between those living in poverty and those living in luxury ever widening. Her hollow-eyed figures are not so different from the man you pass begging in a doorway on your way home.
Kollwitz mainly worked in drawing and prints (rather than painting). Early in her career she produced etchings, but moved onto woodcuts later as a bolder means of expression. Woodcuts are a favourite medium of mine precisely because looking at her work showed me the potential of it.