Slides in Series, 2022

In times of so much brutality and so much cynicism, in which the virtues of logical thinking are shamelessly depreciated, Karen Axelrud's poetry points to opposite paths. Her work is the result of rigor and demand. The images that the artist brings to the public carry very evident indices of the care with which they were designed: a whole sense of depuration and control, a whole geometric and systematized precision. But not only that.

Paintings and drawings are equally taken by the desire for beauty and by the intuitive impulses of the sensitive. The pieces are austere, sober, and, at the same time, offer us tasty and welcome mistakes – which never give in to simplistic solutions or empty effects.

 

The conjunction of forces created by the artist is present in the two strands of works that composes the exhibition “Slides in series”, at the Mamute Art Gallery. Although they differ in terms of language, materiality, and constructive procedures, both large-format paintings and small drawings try to intertwine the different vectors mentioned above.

Made between 2015 and 2018, the paintings come from different systems of repetition, accumulation, and transparency, pursuing various possibilities of illusion of depth and movement. The titles denote these alternatives: Grids, Frequencies, Beams, Orientations, Parallels. But in the look that everything, in fact, is arranged. There, the time of making, the time of perception and the time of thought (whether the author's or the visiting public's) overlap.

Conceived in the sequence, when the suggestions of the painting seemed already settled, the drawings demonstrate even more affirmatively the heat of experimentation, trial, and error. Under the general title of “Cambiantes”, they follow more open and malleable protocols, which change as they are made: loose lines, modular stains, overlays, contours, masks, clippings, collages, patches. The artist herself comments: “The rule is to have no rule. Looking for something closer, more myopic, which will be harder to categorize. Trying to keep myself that way, in experience.”

Obviously, even in the small drawings on paper – single sheets, white and brown, legal size or slightly larger – the desire for balance emerges, so characteristic of painting. In the drawings as in the canvases, the artist juxtaposes elements of contingency and disturbance. The tension between one thing and another is never resolved. In this game, Karen Axelrud offers us hypnotic delicacies.

Porto Alegre, summer 2022

Eduardo Veras, curator