Remember me on this computer
karen kruse
About this artwork
acrylic on canvas
h.60cm w.130cm d.2cm
Jul 2011

karen's Description: A different side of me.

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2011-11-08 00:19

Congratulations on this fine painting Karen. It's a remarkable departure from your previous work, and demonstrates a growing technical mastery with light and colour. Personally I find you much more at ease in this work - despite it being such a difficult subject. I look forward to futher similar explorations of themes devoid of the human figure in which you succeed in loading with expression, as you have done here.

2011-11-08 17:08

It does look like a fine work. Very interesting forms in the shoal (rock formation) and I agree with JP that the overall feeling is one of ease and sureness. But I think Karen's main project has been and will most likely continue to be the human figure, flesh and portraiture, a much more difficult undertaking for her and in general. Why we don't necessarily do what comes easiest is a mystery but I think Karen can practically taste what she's after in her paintings of the human figure and has on occasion come very close to complete success. I think it's not so much getting there as the frustrating and challenging chase itself that sustains this very brave artist's interest.

2011-11-08 22:23

Well, you are right again, painting these images of underwater reflections is easier and makes my life easier too, but something of the risk , the difficulty and the challenge that I find in painting a face , is lacking. But the pain is not there either. Water and sea images are deeply rooted in my memory and my feelings of well being , freedom and peace.
Usually I feel secure finding my way through the colored waters, but not with these ephemeral movements ,reflections and transparencies, in which nothing is really clear. I have to try myself with them, and will continue investigating. What am I doing right now? Well… right now I am painting a portrait of my daughter! How come you know me so well, Hillel?

2011-11-12 23:02

Karen, please talk more about "Water and sea images are deeply rooted in my memory" you mention. I'm very interested to know a little of the life experience behind the artist's choice of subject.
This fresh and open work so well executed embodies your evocative phrase of "ephemeral movements ,reflections and transparencies". What difficulties did you encounter while you were painting it?
Lastly, I'm intrigued by what you say "the pain is not there" - how can painting a picture be painful? What significant difference can there be between the sea of your memory, and a person's face?

2011-11-13 03:25

My, what a noise suddenly on the boulevard. What’s going on? Waking me up in the middle of the night. Shame on you! But okay, now that I cannot find back into sleep, let me just join the caterwauling.

Well, as everyone knows, I sometimes paint cakes instead of naked people. The cakes I call my studies from the nude or sometimes even my erotic images. You might find this a mere artist’s spleen. But you will find that it is a very sensible term when taking your time to ponder on it.

There are experiments showing that even when one takes away characters out of words or change them in their chronological order one is still able to read a text. It has to do with the ability of the brain to make sense to even incomplete things. That for example makes it difficult to find the typos in a text you have just written on your computer. So you have to change the medium and print it out to find them or let another person have a look at it.

So for to really see a body or a face we need to switch off the „autopilot“ that tells us everything before we even open our eyes. Bodies I knew by heart. Nudes I can paint while sleeping. Cakes not. And when I am working on a cake I almost do not know what I am doing. So I am forced to look much more precise than usual. And this procedure enables me to again have a clear and genuine approach towards a body or face without being entangled in blinding prejudice and routine. And by the way, nowadays it’s almost impossible to paint an erotic or sexual painting with using bodies, you can’t escape the various and extremely boring stereotypes.

But people of course only see a juicy cake in my cakes. And they like it more than disturbing faces with eyes pursuing them wherever they go. So they buy cakes instead and so they buy seascapes. In a world packed with images we have unlearned to really look at things and only seem to notice motives: this is a face, that is a house and over there that is a dog and that’s all.

And as discerning artists we abhor things that sell easily. So we are used to underestimate our still lifes, and all sorts of „scapes“ we also do. So Karen always only saw her seascapes as somethings that sells and therefore hadn’t such an artistic value and was shy to even show them or include them into her oevre. She preferred her faces and figures which are wonderful, no doubt about that. But I’m in love with exactly her seascapes for there I can find all of her emotions, her dreams, fears and longings. So I would better call them her mindscapes. I mean it’s so easy to imagine emotions in a face but you really have to dive in a painting that on its surface „only“ shows a shore to find these subtle hints of what’s going on in a person’s heart. I could sit in front of one of those feasts for the eye for hours and try to read the story behind all of these onethousandthreehundredandfortyseven hues of paint. It’s a solace that lasts for hours as well. Karen’s enormous understanding of people, her wonderful empathy, her love of life, her joy and wantonness as well as her being absolutely down to earth and realistic and incorruptable shows in them. It’s amazing!

2011-11-13 19:23

Beautiful, Karen! Ya sabes lo que opino de tus últimas marinas, pero quiero decirlo aquí públicamente. La fotografía no les hace justicia. Hay que verlas y sentirlas físicamente. En tu última exposición - así lo creo- todo lo demás palidecía a su lado.
En arte no hay temas grandes o pequeños, y si me apuras, tampoco fáciles o difíciles. El rostro, y el cuerpo, humanos están sujeto a demasiados prejuicios - como recuerda Hanjo-. El paisaje nos devuelve a la pura abstracción. Recuerdo que empecé a apreciar los desnudos de Rubens, a quien ahora adoro, cuando dejé de ver mujeres regordetas con celulitis y empecé a ver bodegones de frutas (en Rubens tan voluptuosa es una manzana como una nalga).
En arte lo importante son los resultados y en tu caso son magníficos!

2011-11-13 22:41

Gracias Montse, llevas razón en cuanto al tema, pero eso , como otras muchas cosas lo he aprendido con el tiempo. Trabajando . Trabajando estas últimas marinas en las que no hay un horizonte, unas casas una perspectiva, y sólo te encuentras intentando describir un movimiento indefinido lleno de transparencias y de reflejos, de profundidades y de silencios. No he vuelto a tener tiempo de empezar algo nuevo dentro de esta línea, pero en cuanto pueda voy a volver a investigarla. Resulta tan difícil como el más complicado de los retratos y como en éstos me resulta más satisfactorio conseguir algo de lo que busco, cuando lo encuentro. Es verdad que este tamaño no se aprecia bien en esta web, lo achica demasiado, colgaré alguno con otra proporción quizá más tarde.
Empecé dejándome llevar por la idea de que en el paisaje no ponía tanto como en una cara, (conocida), pero poco a poco he ido descubriendo y admitiendo que el paisaje que yo hago, soy yo. Aunque resulte cursi decirlo, soy yo, igual que cuando pinto una cara que me interesa me pinto en ella también . No soy capaz de ponerme a pintar un parque o unas tierras castellanas, porque no las siento, pinto el mar porque es parte de mí , parte de lo que he sido, viví y añoro constantemente. Uno tarda en saber porqué pinta lo que pinta, el CÓMO va siguiendo una evolución pero el QUÉ es algo tan personal … a veces está muy claro, pero otras cuesta admitir nuestras propias razones. Hoy admito los dos temas , el retrato y el mar, como a dos hijos muy distintos a los que quiero por igual, siempre que me evoquen algo. Hay caras que no me dicen nada y aguas que tiran de mí cada día prometiéndome el silencio, la tranquilidad y el volver a ser mecida.

2011-11-14 00:51

Sorry but I had to answer Montse in spanish first . I think that other languages can also be used here, this makes communication easier , doesn’t it? If someone is interested enough he or she will find a translator, and it encourages other people that might not speak English fluently to write in their own languages.
Well, my answer to Montse explained in a way your question. I have learnt through time that one chooses a theme for reasons that are never superficial, although one might think them to be so. The theme by itself doesn’t make the painting deep or important, it is what we put in it that makes it good or another canvas to turn to the wall. I started painting seascapes some time ago and convinced myself that it was a temporary choice, that proved to sell well, and so I continued doing them. Underestimating them. But after some years painting these two themes, portraits and sea images, I realized that in a way I was painting a longing, a desire to recover a feeling.
I grew up living by the sea for a few months every year, first in Alicante where our house had nothing to separate us from the wonderful view of the sea every morning, and then in Menorca. It was never the same, every day it changed , I remember opening my windows every morning wondering how he would look like that day. The spectacle was burnt in my memory together with sounds, smells , feelings and I would say even tastes. I think I have never experienced that happiness so full of physical elements in any other place. Well maybe I have, in the South of France, in the vasts grey beaches they have there, never ending lonely and wonderful places where I would sit for hours. If I could.

To your second question I have to say that the images like Siros, (I will upload it tomorrow) have been quite difficult for me. I consider I have to work on them much more. The constant movement of the water making it reflect the light sometimes and others letting you see what’s underneath was very complicated for me, and I also found that in those movements there was some kind of perspective too!
About the pain… well yes I have suffered painting a face, of course I have. Because in a face I know, I try to paint something that’s not in the surface, an elusive feature , difficult to define or to explain. It’s like trying to catch a light that moves, it is impossible. Not everybody wants to paint a portrait this way, I do, and I can tell you that sometimes it drives me crazy…
Painting a face is complicated, risky , very personal (we are a different person depending on who looks at us) and very exciting at the same time, it can turn out a shell, a shallow depiction of someone or it can say so much of the sitter that once you have seen it you somehow believe you have already met him/her. When I start one .. I never know what’s going to happen! And I just love that feeling.


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