Karen Perl paints the streets, the buildings, the byways and intersections of the city she was born in and continues to live in today. Perl graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago, BFA in 1986. A painter and printmaker, her work is a personal investigation of people and places.
Perl spontaneously begins a painting by referencing the many city intersections she has photographed and painted en plein air over the years. As she develops the composition, a story evolves. Perl states that this story is what holds interest for her, a sense of meaning and narrative that is not linear. She describes it as investigating the world around her as if in a dream. Whether she uses actual photographs of distinct places, or combines architectural forms, her expansive terrains describe a place that she describes as "attempting to get back to something, but it’s not there anymore". The work is like a theatrical setting. The facades of buildings are present, but possibly just surface. This illusion persists through Perl's limited use of texture and scraping off and restricted intensity of the landscape palate.
Perl's creatures and figures ghost-like, transitory beings, here and yet not. Perl often has a dog in her paintings and makes "no bones" about these creatures as a proxy for herself. Walking into the field she has created, lost, confused, in stasis, comforting or at ease, her alter self exists in a space beyond the everyday, yet in the context of it. There is a silence in the response of a being so present and not speaking that becomes more internal than external. Her work is of imperfect memories, mystical and dreamlike.
Adam's Apple, 8x18, oil on panel
Only You, 10x15, oil on panel
Stay, 9x18, oil on panel
Half Mast, 6x12, oil on panel
Devotion, 15x30, oil on panel
Bronzeville, 12x24, oil on panel