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"The Art of Description" - A Chat with artist Karen Perl

  "The Art of Description" - A Chat with artist Karen Perl   

'I look for the soul and the breath between the bricks and the mortar, and the ghostly images that inhabit these spaces.'

Karen Perl graduated with a BFA in drawing and painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Previous to her many years painting in the streets of Chicago, she spent a year in Ireland painting from dreams and imagination, and two years in the South of France painting the landscape. Her current city-scapes explore imagery somewhere in between the real and the imaginative.

"The Art of Description" exhibition curator Doug Stapleton asked Karen a few questions about her work.

Doug Stapleton: You have a very specific way you treat the urban landscape. What draws you to it as a subject?

Karen Perl: To me – the urban landscape, like music, always expresses a mood. It’s bright and sunny and positive, or it’s grey and muted and sad. It’s clear and focused, or hazy and indistinct.

DS: The information that you edit out leaves us a sense of a strong formal rhythm to the city. What can you tell us about your process of looking?

KP: First, the whole picture, or the gesture, is important to me. Just like the gesture of a figure drawing or painting would be important. Then, whatever I like – maybe the curve of the lines of roof tops, the way the windows line up, the patterns created by shadows. The way the sky changes color. The pattern of ornamentation.

DS: The vantage point for the viewer is often in the road- a driver’s view? Do you have a comments about us as a viewer and how we fit into the image?

KP: I find that the middle of the road adds a quality of movement to the painting. I want to create a space that one can move into, drive or walk into, as I am doing. Sometimes I take pictures as I am driving (at least I’m not texting!) just to capture the motion. When I work on location, I am standing in one place, usually off to one side or the other, and I am hyper aware of time passing as shadows move around, and air temperature and other things change from day to day, over the course of completing a painting, and I try to get that feeling of time passing in the painting. But when I work from photography, I work from images that are static, but there is movement in the stillness, (a metaphor for time passing?) and I find that interesting.

DS: Most of the works that I selected have an atmospheric mood. What is your relations to weather and light? What is a ‘perfect’ day for you?

KP: A perfect day is warm and humid and gray. Jewel colors pop out, against browns and grays, and the perception of color in the sky is constantly changing. I can have my eyes wide open, and I can see without squinting. If I am painting outside, I don’t like the wind or rain, but I can take a picture on a wet and windy day, and catch a glimpse of a quality of the atmosphere, that I would like to paint.

Can't make it during the day? Join us for a special after-hours open house on Friday, February 20 from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm and view our current exhibition, "The Art of Description". This exhibit was organized by our colleague at ISM Chicago Gallery, Doug Stapleton, and features work from nine contemporary artists from across Illinois.

Monday, February 09, 2015

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