Karen David Searching for the Viable Essence
16 September – 11 November 2011   Exhibition opening: Thursday 15 September, 6–8 pm

Jacob’s Island Gallery is pleased to present Searching for the Viable Essence, the debut solo show of London based artist Karen David.

Karen David’s practice explores the relationship between high and low culture by juxtaposing painting styles from Post Painterly Abstraction with found imagery and objects from ‘new age’ spirituality — in doing so, questioning our belief systems in these hierarchies and highlighting the slippage that exists between them.

David’s progressive approach to painting is premised on challenging our beliefs in the objectification of spirituality through artefacts. Her work creates modern day meditations that derive from placing dreamcatchers and crystals with appropriations of Abstraction. Through apparently simple painterly gestures and mark-making, David comments on mysticism and the meditative quality of how we might visualise the aura of these objects.

Within the exhibition David presents dreamcatchers which are suspended from circular canvases imbued with concentric circles, in order to reference Kenneth Nolan’s seminal target paintings. This marriage adds an alternative reading to the original reading of the artwork, as they now become associated with the filtering of negative and positive energies — as told in the myth of dreamcatchers.

The depiction of her crystal paintings also play with the idea of the radiating power we imagine the art object to hold. Displayed on top of inverted pyramids, David presents Apophyllite crystals associated with clarity and purifying properties, which seem to bleed into the dark density of the painting and activate its 'viable essence'.¹

Karen David is currently studying MA Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Art. In 2011 she was selected by Dexter Dalwood for Creekside Open at APT Gallery. Other groups show include: Futura Oblique, The Nunnery, Bow Arts Centre, Tag: From 3 to 45. New London Painting, Brown Gallery and I Want to Believe, Millais Off-Site Projects, Southampton Solent University.

For further details contact [email protected]

1. The term 'viable essence' was first quoted by Greenberg in a Mark Rothko biography: '...a discarding of 'expendable conventions'–e.g., figuration– in a quest to reduce painting 'to its viable essence'.' Mark Rothko: A Biography. James E. B. Breslin.