Kemfor is hugely funny. Not sarcastic, not witty, but empathetic. What a terrible life, we all die. We laugh and cry in our dilemma of tragicomedy. She paints the big pictures, the moments of death, the inner feelings in sketches that distort and define the ambiguity of humanity’s form. What mood is this? What are we supposed to summon in terms of our emotional response when looking at these intense tableaux?
Firstly, what is going on in these works? There’s a scene. There are bodies. Something serious. As someone who worked for ten years cataloguing Reuters videos, I recognised the photography core, the news core, the witnessing of scenes inside these complex multi-layered, many-deconstructed surfaces. Kemfor told me some of the start points for the images, too personal to share here, and I’m sworn to secrecy, but personal moments inside her own studios, those intimate moments when we catch a glimpse of ourself (maybe in a mirror) and think how foolish we look, how foolish we are, and how vulnerable we are, charge these paintings which might on first glimpse seem like original grandmaster sketches, of a type.