"Women of the Revolution" by Kathrin Longhurst

Catherine Asquith
Aug 11, 2013 11:28PM


While Longhurst’s figurative painting style is indebted to Socialist Realism, her female subjects are anything but sexless. The power of her work lies in a carefully balanced juxtaposition of opposing realities: the hint of nakedness, the supple flesh and doe-eye expressions of the women are in stark contrast to the harsh materiality of their headgear. So too is their model-like poses incongruent with the 5-pointed red star repeatedly featured, a common communist symbol used to represent the 5 ‘classes’ of socialist society. The slightly obscured Russian text in the background of many of the works, translated as provocative words such as ‘sassy’, ‘naughty’, ‘snob’ and ‘bitch’ is not only reminiscent of the format for magazine covers but also references the Russian Constructivists who used graphic text alongside abstracted forms and shapes, often imbued with politically charged meaning.

A historically, politically and socially attuned artist, Longhurst employs such visual techniques to explore broader dichotomies such as east/west, masculine/feminine and socialism/capitalism. Not only can the beautifully rendered works … be read as a profound satire of communist ideology, Longhurst also seems to be embracing two seemingly conflicting streams of feminism in her work – that where women seek the equal rights and opportunities provided to men by mimicking the qualities and professions typically associated with masculinity, and those who embrace stereotypical notions of femininity as empowering and differentiating.“(extract, catalogue essay by Emma Crott, 2013)



Kathrin’s work reflects her diverse cultural background, having lived in many European countries and finally settled in Australia in 2000. 

Growing up in Communist East Germany Kathrin started taking life drawing classes at the age of 14 years.  Her work is strongly influenced by social realism and communist propaganda art. Kathrin spent a decade in Scandinavia visiting galleries in Denmark and Sweden as well as a year in Belgium where her work gained its Art Nouveau elements.  She has since travelled extensively throughout Europe, Asia and America.

Practising as a full-time artist for the past 10 years, Kathrin has also been actively involved with Portrait Artists Australia, an industry association for professional portrait artists.

Kathrin has been a finalist in numerous art prizes, notably, the Portia Geach Award, the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Prize, the Mosman Art Prize, the Western Australian Black Swan Prize, and in 2012, a finalist in the 2012 Sulman Prize.

Catherine Asquith