Karen Rieger

Colour is of prime importance in the work, evoking mood, sensuality and a sense of beauty. Relatively flat areas of colour are used to emphasize the formal qualities in each painting. There is no attempt to create the illusion of reality and the use of pattern unifies the foreground with the background. This approach to composition is further enhanced by avoiding the conventional practice of linear perspective.

A rich pastiche is found within the paintings, comprised of inspirations as diverse as the avant-garde movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, Japanese prints and European textile patterns, as well as sources derived from the immediate environment with aesthetic responses to a range of experiences. A dialogue between imagination and the past informs the work. Images are deconstructed, disparate elements are retrieved from various sources and synthesized into a harmonious whole. Each piece may evolve from enigmatic impulses or from specific ideas and the painting seem to reveal itself as the brush interacts with the canvas. There are not any preparatory sketches. The process of creating the painting, is intuitive and remains exciting and spontaneous.

The composition is drawn directly onto the canvas with either conte or brush, beginning with the figure or a pot of flowers, and then creating the surrounding environment. When the composition is completed with the various elements in place, the underpainting is begun. Layers of paint are added to the surface, allowing the colour of the underpainting to show through, creating richness and a depth to the surface colour.

The paintings are not intended as self-portraits, any more than any artist’s work is inevitably a reflection of self. The faces are derived from imagination, the features generalized to suggest universality rather than a specific person. They are not passive but engage the viewer directly by returning the gaze. Inspiration for the still life paintings may come from a bouquet on a table, an arrangement in the garden, or many times they simply emerge luxuriantly and fully formed onto the canvas.

The titles for each of the paintings are deliberately prosaic, allowing the visual language of the painting to communicate to the viewer so that they may arrive at their own meaning, free from the confines of a predetermined interpretation.