“I’m happy I have it”: Katrine Kabel explores her recent diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome in her beautiful paintings

The Danish artist uses painting as a means of exploring and better understanding herself.

6 April 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

Nowadays, the painter Katrine Kabel describes her work as being “rough” or “crude”, but it didn’t start out that way. “When I first started,” the Danish artist tells It’s Nice That, “I tried to make my paintings ‘perfect’ but then I realised that there is no such thing, and I went in another direction.” Katrine combines texture with wonderful line drawings sprawled on top, using heavy doses of thick paint across the canvas. She confidently marks the surface of dense blocks of colour, creating a charged balance between the light and the heavy, and in turn, fine art and illustration.

Currently working out of her apartment in Aarhus, Katrine tells us: “I like making crummy paintings, I still find them beautiful and I try my best to maintain a balance between the two,” (the two being perfection and crudeness.) As a child, she remembers playing with her dad’s old paint tubes and brushes. It’s her first memory of being creatively inquisitive, and she looks back on it as the first time she recalls wanting to paint.

Ever since, she has crafted an original practice which is complex, naive and energetic. Inspiration-wise, she looks predominantly to everyday life to inform her compositions. Everything and anything, from the things she sees on the internet, in movies or through friends can spark an idea. It just has to be something she likes, from which she will take notes, and then translate onto the canvas.


Katrine Kabel: Babsi

“Recently, I’ve been very inspired by graffiti artists,” Katrine continues. “In many ways, I think I am very self-centred in my work. I like using myself and my experiences as subjects. I like exploring myself like that.” In this way, and by holding up a magnifying glass to Katrine’s wonderful canvases, we can see glimmers of the artist’s interests through the painterly strokes. The multiplicity of masculinity, for example, can be seen in her painting Billy Elliot, where boxing gloves and the words “ballet” and “oi dancing boy” are scrawled across the canvas.

Another of Katrine’s works is titled Babsi. She tells us about its origins: “I read Wir Kinder von Bahnhof Zoo when I was about Babsi’s age and it really stuck with me.” The story relays that of Berlin’s youngest drug victim who posthumously helped raise awareness of increasing drug use among teenagers. “She died in the 70s from heroin,” continues the artist, “and though retelling a story sometimes means certain details are missed, my painting serves as a tribute to her.”

Elsewhere, in Katrine Sorg, she draws on her own experiences once more, but this time, investigating her Asperger’s Syndrome. “I’m very fascinated with ASD,” she explains on the matter, “and only really recently discovered my diagnosis.” In turn, the painting depicts her name alongside the word “sorg” meaning grief or sadness in Danish. It’s a moving piece, steeped in hues of grey and white amidst a faceless head with chestnut brown hair.

Painting, as a consequence, has become a means of investigation, a way to figure out “what it means to me” and a way to express such feelings. “Most of all, I’m happy I got it,” she says. As for the future, she hopes to further explore and develop her artistry further, and “hopefully along the way,” she concludes, “grow as a person and artist. Every day is more fun and I’m excited for what the future holds.”

GalleryKatrine Kabel


Katrine Sorg


Athena in Briefs


Billy Elliot


Vampire Nights are Over

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Katrine Kabel: Valentine

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.


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