KAREN TURNER

EVOLUTION GRANT recipient 2022

STATEMENT

A figure and portrait artist, my work concentrates on women and is a commentary on the weight of expectations placed on the female sex. With a particular focus on the physical body and the scrutiny to which is it commonly subjected, my paintings explore what society expects of a woman, the ways in which her physical shape is often considered to define her, and the impact that this has on her life and sense of self.

An examination of society's inherent bias against, and at times discrimination of, fat bodies, my paintings challenge the traditionally narrow view of who can be considered beautiful, as I sensitively present my subjects in a way that both celebrates and normalises.

Leaving bare much of the clear-primed linen canvas, I place my sitters front and centre and depict them devoid of surroundings to represent the way in which women, their choices and their bodies are so often judged without context. Sometimes my figures are close cropped to represent the direct scrutiny a woman’s body is regularly placed under, judged not only on its ability to look pleasing, but also on its ability to live up to expectations around reproduction and motherhood.

Much of my work is inspired by historical representations of the female nude, and I like to subvert these portrayals of womanhood - sometimes depicting an 'imperfect' body in a traditionally Romantic pose, or replacing a nubile young Mid-Century pin up with an altogether fleshier model.

I work in oils without medium and wet on wet, applying very thin layers with a fine brush in order to achieve a delicately-blended end result. Colour is crucial as I seek to highlight pigments in the skin that can often go unnoticed, emphasising and sometimes exaggerating them in order that I might accentuate their beauty.

BIO

Based in Suffolk in the UK, Karen is an award-winning figure artist whose oil paintings are a commentary on the weight of expectations

Born in London in 1978, Karen spent many of her school years in Geneva before returning to the UK to attend Hampstead Fine Arts College in London. Now living and working on the Suffolk / Norfolk border, her work focuses on the physical body and the scrutiny to which is it commonly subjected.

Her paintings explore what society expects of a woman, the ways in which a woman’s physical shape is often considered to define her, and the impact that this has on her life and sense of self.

An examination of society’s inherent bias against, and at times discrimination of, fat bodies, Karen’s work challenges the traditionally narrow view of who can be considered beautiful, as she sensitively presents her subjects in a way that both celebrates and normalises.

In 2020 Karen’s work was selected for the Portraits for NHS Heroes exhibition and accompanying Bloomsbury book, and in May 2021 she was awarded the President’s Prize at the Institute of East Anglian Artists Open Exhibition. She was a finalist in the Holly Bush Emerging Woman Painter Prize 2021 and has been shortlisted for the New Emergence Art Prize 2022, the Holly Bush Emerging Woman Painter Prize 2022 and the Women United Art Prize 2021. In March she exhibited at The Other Art Fair in London, where she was selected as the Fair Director’s Pick.

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