Henrieke Ribbe belongs to the very few real masters in the empathic art of portraiture. Her documentation on the Berlin club Kater Holzig was created in 2013/14. Together with her fiancée Jake Basker (aka Jake The Rapper), then a resident DJ at Kater Holzig, she came up with the idea to paint the people behind the scenes, the nightshift workers, the bartenders, doormen, the office staff, the cleaning team, basically everyone that works in the complex organism that makes up the entertainment industry, but particularly those you will not find on the covers of magazines and posters. Painting, as Henrieke says,”was the perfect medium for this task, because people who are generally uncomfortable in front of cameras were able to relax and open up, and were much more interested in and touched to have their portraits painted than their pictures taken, an acknowledgement of their accomplishments that the scrutinising lens of the camera does not convey.” The peaceful repose of the two hour sittings also allowed an intimate moment in the studio, plenty of time to tell a lifetime’s worth of personal history. It was Jake’s job to herd the tom cat family into the studio. After that, Henrieke began to paint them. When she finished, she had captured one hundred faces in oil on canvases, each 60 x 50 cm. The club scene in Berlin is a lively and fast-changing landscape. Clubs pop up and diminish like fish in an underwater reef. It’s all very colorful and divergent, and soon to be relegated to the vague and inaccurate oral history of the underground culture. Everything that isn’t meticulously recorded in magazines and on the internet will generally be forgotten at some point, but it is exactly those places and moments that makes up the most integral and vital part of the scene, the crazy life behind the doors that say “employees only” on them. In these places, photos and videos are considered an intrusion, but for Henrieke painting these portraits was intended “as a respectful tribute.”© Henrieke Ribbe, VG Bild Kunst Bonn / photos: Carsten Eisfeld, Henrieke Ribbe

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