Recent writings on de Verteuils work focus heavily on her interest in the use of line to highlight negative space in her compositions. In this new showing of work we see Karen take this familiar interest and explore an abstract application. Her focus on line appears as horizontal and vertical patterns adding a new geometric element to well explored subject matter.
Landscapes which in the past focused heavily on the spaces in between, creating a dense network of foreground and background, are revisited with simplicity in her new cold wax technique. Offering distant focal points surrounded by large swatches of colour. In one piece (‘Garden’) de Verteuil loosely outlines her flora to create an oversized piece that reads more like a pen and ink sketch than an oil painting. The effect is a simplified semi abstraction that’s casualness speaks to the ease of the painters skill. The painting becomes a technical study but with the ease of a fast confident hand.
Aside from her landscapes the artist is traditionally known for her portraits and nude studies. The sitter, often female, reoccurs in her work and is the focus of the majority of the exhibition. The figures, sometimes nude, sometimes with still life, faceless or with heavily exaggerated features appear almost always alone. The works with faces stare with expressions of ponder or longing off of the canvas. The portraits are grouped together forcing the women to share a space but there is no acknowledgement or interaction among them, leaving a sentiment of loneliness.
Of particular interest is the piece ‘Nude On Black Chair’, a ghostly shape of a woman in white, faceless. The palette is new for the artist and her traditional negative space interest and outlines are replaced with dark and light contrasts that have been manipulated in the new cold wax style. Horizontal lines have been worked into the chair in keeping with the recurring presence of pattern in the collection and I can see a glimpse of the artists’ future direction as she explores new themes.
Not far from this piece ‘Girl With Anthuriums’ sits pensively in blues encompassing the shadows and lighting, negative spaces and exaggerated lips Karen is famous for.
Blue outlines and use of light make knees and the space in between look complexed and interesting in their shapes, capable of being a painting entirely of its own.
As her first show in over 8 years the exhibition is a must see. Works in known themes and new explorations are sure to engage those with expectations as well as future hopes for the artist. de Verteuils 40 paintings on display at 101 Art Gallery opens Saturday 15th August with a special preview today from 12 – 4pm.