Karen Remsen STATEMENT & BIO
I paint women because I feel an inherent kinship with them. I am drawn to understanding how we have each uniquely shaped ourselves from similar clay – not only a shared biology, but also a shared sense of moving through a world that both celebrates and degrades us.
I am most interested in depicting women in moments of introspection and reflection. I wish to capture the gaze turned inward, seeking inner strength and satisfaction. In the cases where my muse’s gaze meets yours, I want you to recognize the complex identity that is rooted deep within her.
My oil paintings juxtapose photorealism with elements of abstraction and reflective materials such as copper, gold leaf, and platinum leaf. As light interacts with the different surfaces, it breathes a liveliness and mutability into each piece. The image is never the same, transforming as you look at it from different angles and under changing light.
My hope is not to depict beauty for beauty’s sake, but rather as a tool to capture your attention and free your mind to wander. When you see a beautifully painted hand, for example, you admire the texture of the skin, the fine wrinkles of the knuckles, the hint of veins beneath the surface. As you look more closely, your thoughts may turn to imagine what these hands have touched, and how these hands will age, what they will feel and grasp and create.
When you see my work, I hope that the beauty of the shifting light and the human figure draws you in. I hope that you lean in, look more closely, and in those moments begin to see reflections of your own understanding of femininity and the human experience.
Karen Remsen is a Chicago-based artist creating paintings with oil and precious metals such as gold and platinum leaf. Her work centers on exploring the multifaceted nature of female power and identity. Combining paint with reflective materials, her work also explores the beauty and complexity of light as it moves over a surface and changes throughout the day. Karen is a self-taught artist who rediscovered painting in 2020 after a hiatus of nearly 15 years. She has exhibited across the country in galleries that champion imaginative realism and contemporary figurative work.