How I Got Here: Artist Lisa Lutgen on finding liberation through her work

How I Got Here: Artist Lisa Sari Lutgen on finding liberation through her work | Soho House

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we chatted to her about her inspirations and the importance of creation as a form of meditation

Wednesday 29 March 2023   By Chloe Lawrance

Ask most artists and they’ll tell you that separating their lived experiences from their work is near impossible. That’s certainly true of visual artist and Soho Friends member Lisa Lutgen – otherwise known as Spicykraut – whose childhood in Malaysia, and years spent between Germany and the UK, finds significance throughout her art. 

Female liberation is also a pressing theme in her work – whether that be through a proud middle finger in response to the overturning of Roe v Wade, created during her Soho House residency in 2022, or through her series The First Joget, a confident exploration of the female form. As Women’s History Month draws to a close, Lutgen offers an insight into her art, her inspiration and her mission to amplify women each and every day of the year. 

Tell us about your most current exhibition 

‘I recently finished my “UNARCHIVED” residency with fellow artist Shumaiya Khan at Shoreditch House. We explored female expression and cultural identities through our visually contrasting bodies of work. I featured my series: Why Is My English So Good? and The First Joget (‘joget’ means to dance or boogie in Malay). Khan and I also ran a life drawing workshop featuring a sound bath and yoga. We wanted to introduce art as a form of meditation, but also simply as a means to enjoy capturing movement and sound on paper. Stay tuned for a limited podcast series and NFT drop continuing our themes explored in the show.’

How I Got Here: Artist Lisa Sari Lutgen on finding liberation through her work | Soho House

Where do you find inspiration?
‘Everything everywhere all at once; film, dance, music, food, conversations, nature, my mum and inner circle.’

Female form is a big part of your work, how did this come about? 
‘It was a real shift in my understanding of female strength and liberation. I’d just moved to London from Kuala Lumpur and attended my first-ever life drawing class via the East London Strippers Collective, and was blown away by this dancer. She defied every conformist definition of “woman” I knew, and moved with a nonchalant, gracious force that I had to capture. And so The First Joget series was born.’ 

What music do you listen to when you’re creating? 
‘This really depends on my mood and the subject. And the weather. But lately, it’s been 2000s hip-hop, amapiano and classical music.’ 

Do you feel there’s any misconceptions about women artists? 

‘Yes, that they didn’t contribute to major art movements, or their work is inherently not worth as much as that of men’s. One word, four syllables: patriarchy.’ 

You have lived in Malaysia and spent a fair bit of your childhood in Germany – how has this affected your work? 

‘I’ve tried not to let my identities define me, but it’s a huge part of my experience and so Spicykraut was born. This alias personifies the culinary essentials of my roots, and informs most of my storytelling, for example my series Why Is My English So Good? . I try to systematically unpack my experiences and I’ve got lots to say, as a ‘rojak’ (mixed in Malay) kid growing up in Kuala Lumpur and navigating womanhood between Germany and the UK. I want to inspire my audience to learn, laugh, cry and debate.’ 

How I Got Here: Artist Lisa Sari Lutgen on finding liberation through her work | Soho House

One of your prominent pieces we spotted is the middle finger – what is the inspo behind this? 
‘Long Live Roe’ is big and bad, and my visual interpretation of last year’s Roe v Wade overturn. I was at a ceramics class when this was announced, and the image went from my brain onto the ceramic vase that I happened to be working on. It only felt right to then create a life-sized canvas piece to punctuate this poignant historical moment. I opted for bright, uplifting colours to contrast the morbidity of patriarchy’s hold on women’s bodies and lives.’

If you could give a young female artist one piece of advice, what would it be? 
‘You can do it all. Find your North Star and commit.’ 

How does community play into your life?
‘It’s something I actively seek out, especially as someone who’s from everywhere and nowhere. Lately, community has meant careers advice and social activities: connecting with like-minded creatives to collaborate with and joining a WOC football team.’ 

What’s next for you?
‘I’ll be exploring different mediums and collabs before approaching art fairs and galleries. I’m working on a womenswear project for spring/ summer (bikinis, anyone?) And did someone say NFTs?’  

Visit our events page for more details on what’s happening around the Houses this month.

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