Sandro Kopp, Katy Diamond Hamer via FaceTime, marker on paper, 2020

His eyes darted to the screen, then to a place outside of my view. It went like this for about an hour, maybe a little longer. In between his making marks, we spoke about various topics, including his Skype portraits, painting, Covid-19, quarantine, and his being born in Germany and based in the Highlands of Scotland. In between we had a show-and-tell moment with our respective dogs. While we spoke, his gaze continued to shift and mine shifted as well, from my own image on the iPhone screen to his face, wondering what the drawing would look like then asking aloud, “Am I moving too much?” I realized that as we spoke, my head and hands were moving, enthusiastically, mixed also with intermittent laughter. “Just a bit,” he replied.

Sandro did a portrait, a nude life drawing, of curator Bill Arning in marker, using a bright orange and a mix of broad and detailed strokes. It was through seeing this drawing, that I reached out to the artist offering to sit for a portrait as well. Why not? This is a time where we are all home, looking for new channels and ways to connect with others. So on this particular day, I wore my pearls -yes, the ones that I wear religiously and haven’t let a little quarantine change- did my daily make-up routine and had a FaceTime call with an artist that I had only encountered once before, at his New York exhibition at Lehmann Maupin.

Sandro Kopp, Bill Arning via FaceTime, marker on paper, 2020

Grabbing various markers and working quickly, he said that this [drawing] process has freed him up, and that he had just made one of my eyes pink. Initially he reserved this spring for a series of new self-portraits, similar to a body of work he exhibited in 2008 at the now closed H.P. Garcia Gallery. Instead, he started working with markers and shared, “I love color. The cap of a marker doesn’t reveal the true color that will emerge on the paper, so there is a sense of gambling. These are light communicative gestures.” Then smiling and adding, “Quarantine, is not the time for introspection or self portraiture. With these new drawings, I want to connect.”

Sandro Kopp, There you are (2012), Michael Stipe, presented by Istanbul ’74, at Lehmann Maupin, NY, Photo by Ruediger Glatz

Sandro Kopp makes portraits through streaming media and in many ways, has been ahead of the curve. While galleries, artists and museums are reaching towards social media and live feeds for content creation, he has made a multitude of paintings and drawings utilizing technology that is meant for virtual communication. They’ve been exhibited in various solo and group shows at Lehmann Maupin, Galerie Eric Dupont, and Sammlung Friedrichshof. At Lehmann Maupin his Skype portraits of New York art world staples such as Ryan McGinley, Michael Stipe and Waris Ahluwalia caught my attention. At the time Skype was still a way of communicating that superseded its fast approaching cousin, FaceTime. Skype, like all video streaming platforms, has pluses and minuses. One positive feature is that it operates free of charge and allows people to connect beyond audio by allowing face to face contact. A downside is that it is reliant on the Internet and strength of the network, and often the subject may become blurred, pixelated and or obliterated through a lost connection. Working with an interrupted call, Kopp’s paintings, a series called “Feedbackloop”, are much more abstract. Pixels are translated in through geometric shapes and faces lose their recognition. The series is somewhat self referential, as he makes a portrait in real-time and then photographs the work and interacts with it again through various stages of disintegration.

Sandro Kopp, Feedbackloop, Rashid Johnson, Sarah Sze and Terrence Koh, 2015, painting on canvas

The new work that he is making during the Covid-19 quarantine, is full of life. It is colorful and engaging while also simplistic and easily legible. The drawings are loose and appear to communicate with Fauvism; if the artists had access to the technologies of today. Matisse, while known mostly as an Impressionist, made a work in 1905 of his wife Amélie titled, “The Green Line” and at the time, critics responded harshly to his use of color. The painting was exhibited in Paris in 1906 and along with works of the Fauves (wild beasts), viewers had a difficult time adjusting to the unexpected use of color. Looking at the painting today, one could imagine that the glow and unusual color on the subject’s face was due to refracted light from a computer screen.

Matisse, The Green Line, 1905

Artists have always used means that are available to them at the time, whether literally or figuratively. Whether a mix of natural pigments used to make paint, a photograph, appropriation, fantasy or technology, representation of the human form and experience has always appeared in one way or another. In a moment of social distancing and a global pandemic, gesture drawing through video chat, seems to be the perfect antidote. Once the video call launches, Kopp can be transported to any area in the world, and on the day he made my portrait, he happened to come to Brooklyn. I went to the Highlands of Scotland without ever having to leave the comfort of home. And in a time of quarantine, that is the point, isn’t it?


Sandro Kopp has upcoming exhibitions in Berlin and Vienna as well as a series of paintings that will be featured in the next Wes Anderson film, The French Dispatch.

Katy Diamond Hamer is the founder of Eyes Towards the Dove, lectures on contemporary art and writes with various publications. For more of her work visit,