Artists We Love: Kate Gottgens


Durban-born fine artist Kate Gottgens is well known both locally and internationally for her dark and moody paintings.

Her last exhibition, Famine, held at Johannesburg’s SMAC gallery, peered into a dystopian world filled with subtle meaning. Here, she gives us some insight into her work, as well as who to watch out for in the local art world.

What is the subject matter of your latest work?

My latest series of paintings were made for my recent show titled Famine. The images are of young millennials and women in scenes of leisure on the brink of abandon or destruction.

What is your preferred medium?

Oil on canvas.

How did you get involved in art?

I studied a BA Fine Arts degree at UCT’s Michaelis.

What inspires you to create?

I have a very nice studio and a good work ethic. I like to feel purposeful and I paint everyday. ‘Inspiration’ is generated by giving oneself the time and space to explore ideas with one’s imagination, sometimes the starting point is a news event story or a photograph I’ve found.

Who are the local artists to watch at the moment?

I think the two most original and exciting painters right now are Chemu Ng’ok and Gareth Nyandoro, though Gareth is already a superstar and is achieving major attention.

What feeling do you want to evoke through your work?

A sense that things may not be as they seem; that appearances are ambiguous and illusionary.

Any exciting plans for the future?

I have had an extremely busy past two years with a retrospective exhibition (seven years worth of work) and a monograph followed by a solo show in Belgium last year and a solo show in Joburg. Plans are in the making but I’m not revealing anything just yet… so watch this space.

See more of Kate’s work at or at