Karen Smidth | Remarks
Karen Smidth’s new collection, Remarks, centers on the Pacific landscape in emotionally evocative and sweepingly ethereal paintings. Her new body of work focuses on the idyllic scenes familiar to the Pacific coast, reimagined and re-marked as abstracted depictions from the artist’s impressions and memories.
Smidth’s genius lies in her relationship with color, mixed in layers directly on her linen canvas. A plane of sultry lilac might have started out a forest, an ocean hue becomes warm copper. Thinning her oil paints so they appear like a wash of watercolor allows for a glow that can only come from a complex network of translucent layers. Color is applied liberally in some areas, and sparsely in others, so that one painting might contain opposing moments of a frothy impasto white cap; close by, a charcoal mark remains intentionally legible. These subtle tensions provide a soft dynamic drama to the surface quality of the paintings.
With her flat reductive approach for figuration, the artist keeps her viewers grounded in her highly abstracted scenes through a strong realistic perspective. Smidth describes the act of painting as a form of problem solving, creating worlds and places where people might want to visit or remembering what they have already done so as to provoke a memory steeped in her colors and strokes. In doing so, she invites her viewers to see nature the way she does, to imagine a natural world full of landscapes that are meant to be enjoyed, loved, and taken care of.
Smidth, who spent the first 25 years of her life in Denmark often describes her work as a way to reckon with the feeling of being an outsider. By painting the new world around her she has found a way to make California her home. This new series offers a contemplative glimpse into a deep sense of looking deeply at the world and the value of slowing down to appreciate our surroundings, to see where we are and accept it as our home.