On the Couch with Kim Leutwyler

Kim Leutwyler oncWho is Kim Leutwyler?
Visual artist and lover of life! I create figure paintings of LGBTQI-identified and Queer-allied women, most recently focusing on those who have impacted my life in some way. My work toys with the concept of glorification vs. objectification vs. modification of my sitters. I incorporate various facets of nature in to my work in order to comment on the mutability of identity, gender and beauty. I have come to focus on painting as a medium because of its primarily masculine history in the western art canon. Dedicated to my studio practice, I intend to continue making art throughout the course of my life, no matter what path my career may take.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
If I wasn’t an artist I’d be… an accountant! Ha ha ha. In high school I received a scholarship for accounting, but don’t worry… I wasn’t a total nerd. I was also co-captain of the cheerleading squad, a member of the homecoming court, theatre kid, ceramicist and was pretty much friends with everybody. After graduating I initially enrolled in accounting for my University degree and then made an impulse decision to switch to art history. Ok, I guess I’m still a bit of a nerd!

Who inspires you and why? 
Robert Rauschenberg is a huge source of inspiration for me. The first time I saw one of his paintings in the San Fransisco MoMA, I was so drawn to the piece that I sat there staring for 45 minutes, something I had never done in a museum before. Rauschenberg often combined things like taxidermy animals, furniture and painted canvas to make enormous pieces. He also dedicated his millions toward establishing multiple organisations that support causes like world peace, the environment and human rights. My only regret was not reaching out to him to express how much his work meant to me while he was alive.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
5 years ago I started a project called PhilanthropArt, for which I donate a percentage of the proceeds from my artwork sold to a new non-profit organization each month. My idea of “success as an artist” has always been to make a positive impact on the world through artistic vision and funding for non-profit organizations and the arts. I hope to eventually include other artists in the project, growing the impact to a global scale!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
NYC baby! My high school was an hour outside of Manhattan, so visiting the city feels a bit like going home even though I’ve never actually lived there. I love everything about NYC, from the grungy watering holes of the East Village to the Burger Joint hidden behind a curtain in the lobby of Le Parker Meridien Hotel. The people of New York are outrageous and diverse, there’s always something to get in to and the forest is just a 30 minute train ride away. What more could a girl ask for?

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Every friend and family member that has come for a visit has joined me on the Coogee to Bondi Beach walk! After enjoying the most fantastic views of the ocean and coastline we always curl up with a beer on the patio of The Bucket List at Bondi Beach. There’s nothing like a boozy lunch after a 2 hour walk to get you into the Sydney spirit.

What are you currently reading?
Crime and Punishment by my favourite author, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I’ve read nearly every book he’s written and figured it was time to tackle his most epic text.

What are you currently listening to?
Anything but country! Pop, funk, folk, electronic and hip hop have all moonlighted as my favorite genre, but right now I’m just happy cruising along to whatever my Apple music suggests.

Happiness is?
Strolling through the Centennial Parklands with my partner and puppy, craft beer in hand on a sunny day. I particularly love walking through the flying fox reserve with thousands of giant bats hanging upside down in the trees alternately sleeping, grooming, and stretching.  Their fluffy red chests are so cute!

What does the future hold for you? 
LOTS of painting! I’m so honored to have been selected as 1 of 100 artists exhibiting at The Other Art Fair. The Fair is currently the UK’s largest artist led fair, and due to its on-going success, TOAF is launching in Sydney 10-13 September alongside the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair!

As for the future in general, I hope that my work will start a dialogue about LGBTQI rights in both the feminist and mainstream art worlds. It’s time for Australia to catch up to the western world!

Kim Leutwyler is an American-born artist who migrated to Sydney, Australia in 2012. She works in a variety of media including painting, installation, ceramics, printmedia and drawing. Leutwyler holds concurrent bachelor degrees in Studio and Art History from Arizona State University, and additionally graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Painting and Drawing degree.

Leutwyler’s artwork has been exhibited in multiple galleries throughout the United States and Australia, and she is part of a permanent collection at both the Naestved Cultural Center in Denmark, and the Brooklyn Art Library in New York.  Her portrait of Ollie Henderson, entitled Start the Riot is currently on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the 2015 Archibald Prize Exhibition.

For more information about Kim, visit: www.kimleutwyler.com for details.

Image: Kim Leutwyler