This exhibition of new etchings and paintings by Karen Keogh adds her unique artistic voice to several subjects that have been preoccupying and exciting European artists throughout history. In her introduction below, she mentions the Fauves, and as she states, there is certainly a discernible Fauvist inspiration in Karen’s palette. This is particularly apparent to me in her Summer Vineyard oil painting and the deep yellow sky in her Southern Sunrise etching.But in addition to this connection with the Fauvist aesthetic, there are two other art historical ties to note.
The rolling hills and naturally vibrant colours of the French countryside, described beautifully in Karen’s new work, are echoed in Paul Cézanne’s Mont Saint-Victoire paintings. Like Karen, Cézanne spent years studying the same scene to truly understand how it changes and how it is steadfast in its colours and its foliage. Like Cézanne, Karen picks and chooses what elements of the landscape to abstract and to depict faithfully. The result in both cases is a highly personal interpretation of beloved vistas.
Karen also has produced a series that explores one of the most vital and fickle tools for plein air painters: light. Like Claude Monet before her, Karen has put together a series that looks at the effects of different times of day on landscape and cityscape. Monet created three famous series exploring light and time of day: twenty-five paintings of haystacks, more than thirty paintings of the Rouen Cathedral, and nineteen depictions of the Houses of Parliament. His series look at how these man-made structures react to light from sunrise to sunset. While Karen’s series depicts different scenes across Tuscany, the exercise is still a useful one for conceptualising the varying emotions and colours that can accompany one’s day while traveling around the Italian countryside, from La Alba (dawn) to Crepusculo (dusk).
Hopefully these comparisons to famous works can help us to appreciate the timelessness of Karen’s newest pieces. But from here it’s best to let Karen describe her experiences of these locales, and the inspirations that she draws from them, in her own words.
To read about Karen's three-plate printing process, please follow the link below for Christine's latest blog entry -
I am drawn to the colours of the Mediterranean landscape. For the past twelve years, I have spent time in a pretty little town called Jonquières in southeast France. The village is set in the hills, with nothing around other than trees and vineyards. I love to wander off into the countryside with my watercolours to try and capture the atmosphere and tranquillity.
I also have travelled to the Corbières region. The soil there has a strong red colour which translates to my etchings very well. My working method in recent years has been to paint in watercolour, then to create etchings based on these images. I have always been drawn to the strong colours used by the Fauves, such as André Derain, who painted many of his works in the south of France. I find myself using a strong, vibrant palette of colours in the etchings produced of both Corbières and Tuscany.
Last year, I spent time in Tuscany and discovered a new landscape to explore. Olive trees inspire me with their colour and form, and the patterns that the trees make in the landscape draw me in. My new series of etchings, which all use three plates to achieve the rich colours, are from various parts of Tuscany and represent different times of the day.
The etchings start with a line drawing on a hard ground zinc plate. This is the key plate, with most of the design. Tone is introduced using a fine aquatint dust. This image is offset onto the red plate, and a second colour is introduced. The third and last plate is usually yellow in colour. It can take a week to make each plate. Other techniques are incorporated such as drypoint and spit bite.
My annual pilgrimage to the Mediterranean is a treat for the eyes and the senses. It’s an experience of colour and form like no other.
To view and download the catalogue for this show please click HERE
View the show in the Print Room
Karen Keogh | A Mediterranean Journey