Karin Lambrecht Brazilian, b. 1957


The painting and sculpture of Karin Lambrecht (born 1957 in Porto Alegre, Brazil) embodies the gestural abstraction of her 1980s Brazilian generation. Using vibrant pigments, produced by the artist herself, she applies broad, gestural brushstrokes to hand-stitched, torn, and burned canvases, sometimes incorporating organic materials such as animal blood, charcoal, rainwater, and earth. Her recurring motifs include crosses and handwritten enigmatic words that emerge from layers of paint.


In the late 1970s Lambrecht participated in mail art networks, communicating from Brazil with artists all over the world. She attests to the political potency that mail art had at that time, forging international friendships and providing a means of sharing artwork outside of institutions and the commercial market. Brazil was somewhat cut off from the outside world in the 1970s under military dictatorship, but mail art closed the distances between its participants and alleviated the sense of isolation.


Lambrecht moved to West Berlin in 1980 in order to study at the Hochschule der Künste (HDK), she was pleasantly surprised by the social freedom she experienced. Her time spent in Berlin served as a significant turning point in her career and she had the chance to greatly expand her artistic vocabulary. In 1984, a year after her return to Brazil, she participated in the seminal exhibition ‘Como vai você, Geração 80?’ (How are you doing, 80s generation?) in Rio de Janeiro. Concurrent with vast Diretas Já protests around Brazil, which called for direct and free presidential elections, this exhibition showcased a refreshing selection of works by artists who were rediscovering the pleasure of painting at the tail end of almost twenty-one years of military dictatorship. In 1986 Lambrecht took up a residency at the Millay Colony for Arts in New York State, a time during which she met Louise Bourgeoise in New York City.


Between 1997 and 2008, Lambrecht witnessed or participated in the traditional process of the killing of a sheep in various countries ranging from Brazil, Chile and Uruguay to Israel. Blood and viscera were used as materials to create a series of works called ‘registros de sangue’ (records of blood) that explore the way that humans separate themselves from animals; these works serve as a record of presence followed by absence, life followed swiftly by death. These works are demonstrative of a connection to the natural world that is present in all of Lambrecht’s painting. The symbol of the cross recurs in Lambrecht’s work, alluding to Christian imagery but also to notions of positivity and healing. Lambrecht does not see herself as a religious person, however is interested in religious tradition and aesthetics; with the cross in her work she occupies and explores a middle ground between the religious and the secular. 


Handwritten words are regular features of Lambrecht’s paintings, fading in and out of her work. Isolated words, repeated words and lists are written out in Portuguese and German, and also, since her move to Broadstairs in the United Kingdom in 2017, in English. The use of language manifests as a method of physical and psychological self-location and the words Lambrecht includes become mantras to accompany the meditative process of painting.