Transgressing Boundaries

Picture or Wall?
Am I looking at a picture or a wall?
The picture does not have any border. It continues – in itself and beyond its non-existing frame.
A relationship between architecture, objects and paintings is set in an installation. Elements connect, creating relationships, frictions and resolve them again.
I move through space like a landscape, built of pictures and objects, different from angle to angle. As I move new images emerge every step I take.
Moving and seeing in time – seeing is time.
The image as counterpart, character and protagonist.
It confronts me, shimmering intrusive and discreet.
The accessible spaces are neither fixed nor loose. Elements may relate to given architectural settings. They are responsive to space and restructure it.
Pictures might be created for specific spaces. Painting becomes part of an installation and sculptural work.

installationview folded paper

Kathryn Koster is a German artist from Berlin who is currently a resident at New York City’s Triangle Residency. In her work, she addresses questions regarding our society’s vacillating perception of art. She inspects the problem of relativity and stability in the art world and attempts to show how we have changed. How are we reading art from the past and what is our approach to art produced in the 21st century? How are art media and society’s relationship to art implicitly related? So intense are the connecting lines; solitary guidelines and methods overlap each other and create one system. It’s like an interminable game whose rules you can alter.

Koster creates primarily intuitive, abstract paintings with ever-changing ornamental accents. With gusto she approaches painting in this ornamental fashion, one which many painters find untenable. To focus on accents might be viewed as problematic, but not to Koster. A first impression of her work might misconstrue the foreground as the foreground, but this is not necessarily so. The background is equally frontal, at least to the meaning of the painting. She gives them mutual relevance in the painting as a whole.

She is an incredible painter who takes a strong, intuitive approach to her tableau. Her ornamental works morph between viewers, which piques the question of art’s stability and the access viewers have. Translations vary over time, a post-structural chain of meaning that goes unnoticed without a deconstructive cue – Koster’s painted path to the unconscious.

She is strongly inspired by architecture. It drives her creations, which incorporate various artifacts and architectural elements from the everyday. With sensitivity she shows how art is unstable and that it changes easily. Her sensitive approach to her work identifies the gentle planes of overall perception and the art of ornaments and their placement in a space.

1. In your work is important to show an unstable situation. The situation today is sometimes unclear and hard to read. Lots of artist are searching for a system and for rules within the chaos. Perhaps the rules are identifiable through comparison of contemporary art disciplines. You as well are multidisciplinary artist. Could you describe your work and the process itself little bit more?

My starting point is painting so I would say that I am a painter. The questions I open by working in installation works are for me the direct response to the content of the paintings themselves: questions about physical ways of perception, movement, my corporal position, visibility/invisibility, the possibility of works to create their own space, flexibility and variability.

For me the relation between the several works are important. Even when each work is finished I consider the works as fragments and separated thoughts, which are able to develop a hole way of thinking in their combination.

2. What do you see as the relationship between art and architecture? Is it something specific about architecture that interests you? Is it because architecture is literally the most stabile “medium” in this time?

I like your thought, that architecture seems to be the most stabile medium in this time! But my interest in architecture came through the necessity to contextualize my paintings in the beginning. As I assume that they are more like protagonists, they are strongly related to their surrounding. They are influenced directly by, and they also could be the direct response to, the given architectural structures.

My definition of architecture is really fragmentary. I see it as a physical counterpart to my body, my position in a certain space.

In this point I see a parallel between my definition about architecture and my attitude about my painting works.

3. Now you are living in the city where the architecture is of an abnormal scale and hyperbolic symbolism, features/ornaments and styles. How does it influence your work? What is different compared with Berlin architecture?

My perception of thinking about “architecture” in New York is all about power. It’s overwhelming, the expression of power. Everything is status and New York seems to be much more heterogenic. And this heterogeneity is also related to this feeling of overwhelming power, because meanwhile perceiving you are unable to find positions, or your positions have to change the whole time. This form of power is very energetic and stimulating, as if you have to focus the whole time to make it possible to see.

5. As a painter you are “destroying” the painting itself, rebuilding it and giving it totally new, but the same intensive, meaning. The new position of the ornament or part of any fragment that you are using, it is in the same “art scene,” keeping its pejorative meaning. Yes, the ornament was always like ornament, but you give it a many times stronger position. That’s great because you’re questioning not just “history” but also your own work. How do you think about it? What bring you to the idea to travel against the grain of history? 

I would describe my interest in ornaments by way of a citation from A. Krischaintz about ornaments in architecture: “And marble, too, will always be presented in a specific cut and sheen – this might even be its most sophisticated ornament, since here natural forms are subservient. Assuming that ornaments were important prearranged systems of signs, the question is where are these signs today?” (A. Krischanitz) I am interested in this way of thinking. Concerning my work, I don’t use so directly the term “ornament”. Only in the work “folded paper”, the big round shaped paper forms, I thought about a relation to an architectural ornament. But in the end, these works are more a sketch or a print of a thought than about a building.

6. What is the different between art in NYC and art in Berlin? (It’s okay if you want to criticize us.) 

If I think about this question I have the impression that I don’t remember so well the Berlin art… Okay, I would say that my impression of the art produced in New York is that it is more direct. It’s so generalized, but in a certain way it seems to be more present in the moment. But it’s really hard to answer this question. I feel unable to do so, because in the end it’s so related, everything is so much in exchange. Everything is visible in these times.

7. Are there any exhibits here that have influenced your work? Or that left an impression strong enough to inspire you in the future? 

There were two exhibitions I really liked a lot: the first was the exhibition of Rosemarie Trockel in the New Museum. Her Cosmos was a real Cosmos! And the second one was the “Expo1: New York” in MoMA PS1. Bringing together these diverse contexts it was fascinating to see how a whole way of thinking is able to be created.

8. Why is good for artist to visit New York? Would you recommend it to other artists? Would you recommend that an American artist visit Berlin? 

In general, YES, New York has such a good dynamic, its always good to have the possibility to dive into! On the other hand New York is also not easy to live in. It’s too expensive, also intimidating and you are confronted with a really powerful system and perhaps it’s not a system you agree with in total.

Berlin is good for living and working and also dynamic… I don’t know if I will be living here for a long time. For me it’s my base. From here I can take decisions. And whether a city inspires you depends on different things. I would say: for both in both different meanings it’s good to be in exchange! So visit and revisit!

[wpcol_1fifth id=”” class=”” style=””]installationview[/wpcol_1fifth] [wpcol_1fifth id=”” class=”” style=””]installationview2[/wpcol_1fifth] [wpcol_1fifth id=”” class=”” style=””]K1- 2011-200x200cm-canvas between two glasplates[/wpcol_1fifth] [wpcol_1fifth id=”” class=”” style=””]K2-2011-160x160x60cm-canvas between two glasplates, metalconstruction[/wpcol_1fifth] [wpcol_1fifth_end id=”” class=”” style=””]NN-fabric, metalconstruction, 2011, 170x220x60cm[/wpcol_1fifth_end]

About Kathrin Köster

Born 1981 in Aachen, Germany


2010 Master of Fine Arts (class Prof. Lothar Baumgarten)
2002-2010 Studies of Fine Arts, University of Fine Arts (Universität der Künste), Berlin
2006 Université de Provence, Aix-Marseille, Aix-en-Provence
2001-2002 Studies of Fine Arts Academie Beeldende Kunsten in Maastricht, Netherlands


Open studios, Triangle Arts Association, New York City
Palimpsest-Laterna Magica, Contemporary Institute for Arts and Thoughts, Berlin
Painting was a lady, Kreuzberg Pavillon Kassel/ Wonderloch Kellerland
Berlin/ wiener art foundation & Kunstraum am Schauplatz, Wien, Austria
vise versa, Kommunale Galerie, Berlin
slide show, frontviews gallery, Berlin, Athens
Kathrin Köster, Bauhof, Winterthur, Switzerland
Gute Karten, Haus am Kleistpark, Berlin

FAST AND FURIOUS – Goldrausch 2011, Hallen am Wasser, Berlin
Kunstroute Aachen, Aachen
Guided tours no8, Berlin
Berliner Zimmer Genossen, Funkhaus Berlin
The edge of a painting, Kreuzberg Pavillon, Berlin
award exhibition Schulz-Stübner-award for painting (Schulz-Stübnerpreises für Malerei)
Platzhalter frontviewsgallery Berlin (Solo)

Ganze/Teile, Schuckerthöfe Treptow, Berlin
Verortung, Galerie S., Aachen (Solo)


2013 studiogrant at Triangle Arts Association, New York City
2013 scholarship of DAAD (german academic exchange service) for New York City
2012 grant of “Stiftung Kunstfonds Bonn”
2011 postgraduate program „Goldrausch Künstlerinenprojekt art IT“
2010 award “Meisterschülerpreis des Präsidenten der UdK Berlin”
2010 award for painting Schulz-Stübner-Stiftung


Meisterschülerprize (catalogue)
award for painting Schulz-Stübner-Stiftung (catalogue)


[wpcol_1fifth id=”” class=”” style=””]Rotunde, canvas,2012,420cm[/wpcol_1fifth] [wpcol_1fifth id=”” class=”” style=””]Seismograph-2012-canvas,wooden construction 300x300cm[/wpcol_1fifth] [wpcol_1fifth id=”” class=”” style=””][/wpcol_1fifth] [wpcol_1fifth id=”” class=”” style=””]Triptychon3-2012-170x170cmTriptychon1-2012-canvas,160x160cm[/wpcol_1fifth] [wpcol_1fifth_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

W 210x210cm- 2012, canvas