Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Still Life of Linda Pearlman Karlsberg

There are certain works of art that I find so appealing and engaging that I find it hard to move on from them. Like a new favorite song that one wants to hear over and over again, there are some art pieces that I want to look at over and over again...tracing the lines with my eyes, feeling the texture with the fingers of my mind, appreciating the elements of design, noting the subtleties of light and shadow, and engaging with the story of the scene. This is the case with the drawings by Linda Pearlman Karlsberg in Still Point Art Gallery's current show--Still Life: Ordinary and Extraordinary, and this is why Karlsberg was selected as an Artist of Distinction. These pieces are so visually appealing...so interesting, rich, and engaging...that I want to keep looking at them in order to take in as much as I can and to continue to find what I might have missed or cannot yet see. With regard to Mermaid's Dance I and II, I enjoy the clear definition of space along with the interplay of positive and negative space. Then, set against this clean right-angled background are these playful little bendy creatures that seem to be moving and dancing and enjoying themselves. A scene of pure delight. My enjoyment in New Wings is based on the variety of shapes...squares, triangles, polygons...and the variety of shades...light gray to black. The interplay of these elements and the positioning of objects is perfect, and the result is an appealing and engaging piece that captures the viewer.

Mermaid's Dance I
Karlsberg calls herself a still life and landscape painter and draughtsman working in oils, graphite and lithographic crayon. She has been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember, and by age eight she had a constant thirst to realize the world around her with pencil or paint. She pursued her desire for technique and mentorship at Tufts University and the School for the Arts at Boston University. While in graduate school and after, she taught drawing, design, and painting at Boston University and other colleges for many years. She and her husband have owned and operated a professional photography studio since the mid-1970s, and so all of Karlsberg's life has been dedicated to creative image making and striving to develop her eye, craft, and sense of expression.

In Karlsberg's words: 

Light is the catalyst for my work. I find it magical and magnetic and I am compelled to capture how light describes, reveals and obscures, and how it renders a mood or drama. Beyond this pursuit of visual richness and potential, I am moved by the enigmatic, lyrical, profound and magical that I find lurking below the surface in the landscapes and still life constructs I depict. 

Mermaid's Dance II
Over the years Karlsberg has preferred the mediums of oil paint and graphite. She prefers to work with graphite on hot press papers, as the mark is distinct and she likes the value range, from white to rich velvety blacks. Karlsberg's paintings are in oils and she prefers working on the hard surface of gessoed panels, similarly, because of the way paint stands on the surface and strokes retain their own character. She likes to work from life and so she builds a still life in her studio by manipulating the objects and the light over many hours, tweaking and changing elements and placement until she finds that it is visually striking and conceptually compelling. She plays with tension produced by the juxtapositions, and at the same time seeks a pervasive serenity and mystery.

The formal elements I manipulate within each still life, allow me to probe the expressive potential of objects, to push the emotional power of their interplay and to develop my own symbolic language. While trying to give visual form to an idea and studying the interaction between entities in the construction, I explore each object’s form enhanced and described by light. I seek to stretch confines, to look beyond the ambiguous nature of function and the limitations of each object’s imposed definition, and in doing so to develop imagery that embodies the universal while exploring the particular.
New Wings
Because these visual elements offer me rich metaphoric dimensions still life is a forum where I can explore life's struggles, contradictions and inscrutability. In this personal realm my still life work is a response to my life’s tragedies, challenges and gifts. It gives form to the tension that results from my seeking personal expression, while inhibited and bound by the responsibilities of earning a living and taking care of a family, as well as from the fight with one’s own creative limitations. At turns, personally resonant themes of discovery, potential, creativity, growth, beauty, spirit, truth, relationship, struggle, fragility and death drive the imagery. At the same time I hope that the work speaks to the universality of these themes and resonates with others, to reach beyond my individual language to engage others’ understanding of life’s experience.

Mermaid's Dance I. 18 x 16.5 inches. Graphite on paper. Framed, $1200.
Mermaid's Dance II. 21 x 15 inches. Graphite on paper. Framed, $1200.
New Wings. 27.2 x 19 inches. Graphite on paper. Framed, $1600.

Still Point Art Gallery
March 1, 2011

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