By Debbi Kenote
“I see myself as a figure painter,” says Kate Liebman, as I sit in her studio, absorbing her large dynamic paintings in front of me. I see for the first time a repeating pair of eyes in an abstracted painting behind where she is sitting. As I spend more time sitting and talking with the artist, the large well-executed paintings seem to become something more unexpected. Liebman begins walking me through her process, her sources, and her perspective on her own history. Paint tubes and splatters cover the floor almost completely. Her studio is located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and she has agreed to an interview with me, after having met me at Bushwick Open Studios this past fall. As our conversation progresses, topics of distance, viewer insight, and political responsibility are tackled, and I learn that this body of work has been sourced from a drawing she made of a photograph — taken during the Holocaust, showing prisoners lined up for a daily count in Buchenwald, Germany. In the time spent in her studio, she also shares with me her perspective on the current painting discourse, including artists she considers to be inspirational and her process of setting productive goals in the studio. In addition to maintaining a studio practice in Brooklyn, Liebman also writes for the Brooklyn Rail.