June Kelly Gallery


Karin Batten
New Paintings

Karin Batten - Playa Negra,2020, mixed media, 46 x 36 inches

Playa Negra,2020
Acrylic, magma, mica, digital image,
glue and glass on canvas
46 x 36 inches

Karin Batten: New Paintings, an exhibition of work that adamantly reflects a favorite quote of the artist, “every canvas is a journey all its own, Helen Frankenthaler,” will open at the June Kelly Gallery, 166 Mercer Street, on March 6.  The works will remain on view through May 30.

Resplendent abstract improvisations of color and crafty collocation of form continue to reflect Batten’s attraction and response to the natural world. She writes “my new series of work is inspired by the evocative and distinct places I find while traveling.  In 2018, I went to Puerto Rico and Costa Rica to find inspiration for my new works and help with the relief effort.  While there, I visited Playa Negra, a black sand beach, formed from an earlier volcano.  Inspired by the magma, I brought some back and integrated its rich mysterious color and texture into this body of work.  Seeing the uniquely colored feather patterns of Costa Rican birds firsthand while surrounded by fauna and butterflies left me with a feeling for intense color that I work to capture in my paintings.  These authentic discoveries and moments help enrich each work with its own story and its own unique world.”

This new body of work suggests Batten’s emotional response to the scenery as not dissimilar to a prized quote of Alice Neel, “The place where I had freedom most was when I painted.  I felt completely and utterly myself.”

Batten’s brilliantly colored, unpredictable and lyrical forms with random gestural markings redefine painterly space as she explores abstraction and representation focusing on, as she describes, the point of balance, “the meeting of the two worlds.”  Complex with delightfully curious patterns, ambiguous with identity, each painting contains a representative image left on the cusp of perception.

Batten’s paintings are the sum of distinct visible shapes that make no use of the persistent convention of Western art, the structural ranking of form.  Batten’s sense of freedom allows her to continue to create mystifying color paintings, to affect form, to re-characterize the laws of gravity, to confound perspective, while anchoring by the abstract qualities of the paint, strong hues, deep textures and swirling brushstrokes overtake the image as seen in Playa Negra, 2020.

While Batten concedes to working spontaneously and intuitively, losing all boundaries, much like swimming in a vast sea, she says, “I ruminate over my work a long time.  Attempting to transcend my inflexible upbringing in the bleakness of bombed out Hamburg in postwar Germany.”

Batten lives and works in New York.  She was educated in Hamburg, London and New York, where she earned a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from Hunter College.  In 2019 Batten was awarded a Pollock-Krasner grant.  Her work has been exhibited in many one-person and group exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe, including Berlin, Paris and Zürich.  She is represented in numerous public and private collections, including the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York; Belk Visual Arts Center, Davidson College, North Carolina; The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Pfizer Incorporated, New York, Reliance National Insurance, New York, Gallerie 70, Berlin, Germany and the US Embassy, Mbabane, Swaziland, Africa.


Click on thumbnail for larger image.

Cycle the Deep - 2018

   Karin Batten Bio

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