of Matter, 2024
“The world is a continuous and restless bubble of things, a continuous coming to light and disappearance of ephemeral entities. A set of vibrations.” Carlo Rovelli
PERMANENT MOVEMENT OF MATTER
Karen Axelrud's present exhibition is part of a trajectory that stands out for a long creative process, encompassing paintings, drawings, collages, engravings and photographs, a universe that is being revealed at each new exhibition to the public. The title ‘Permanent Movement of Matter’ is inspired by concepts of contemporary physics and cosmology that inhabit the artist's curiosity and permeate this group of recent works. These include two fundamental elements in her formal vocabulary: the persistence of the line and the overlap of planes, colors, and dimensions.
If in previous phases the lines formed perfectly vertical and horizontal grids, drawn freehandly, in the current work they curve, forming ellipses, circles, spirals drawn by masks cut out of paper. Everything is a matter of space and time in these works. Time for the artistic process, creator and demolisher, time to contemplate, to circulate between the works, time to recognize something hidden in abstract forms, time to dialogue with images.
Here we can imagine both a macrocosm full of planets, asteroids, nebulae and a microcosm of cellular organelles, atoms, nucleus, electrons. Fragments, bits, meteorites or simply painting on painting coexist. Clusters of colorful shapes slide, interweaved with lines of force that intersect, tie or expand in a permanent movement of matter. If disorder exists, it is welcome, it is part of the process. Or, if we prefer, as the ancient Greeks said, “the cosmos is the son of chaos”. Karen thus offers us an intriguing visual experience that reveals itself little by little, like the abysmal mystery of the space that we contemplate in silence.
Among the works on display, this original collection of small objects that the artist calls “archaeology” takes us back to the ancient artistic tradition of “curiosity cabinets”. These cabinets, which would later give rise to modern museums, brought together random objects displayed in showcases and marked an approach between art and a more scientific understanding of the world. The same notion of object of study, classification and, why not, archeology of her own creative process can be identified in the curious objects made by Karen. Manipulated by the artist's hand, in cold ceramic, these objects varying in color and size constitute a repertoire of shapes, like books in a library. Forms that materialize, concrete, that perhaps transpose the abstract bodies that float on her canvases.
In Cut outs Karen invites us to see the structure, the actual framework of her lines. In other words, masks and castings used as molds and which would be discarded in the final result of the painting are incorporated into the work to become the artistic object themselves. It allows what was hidden to come to light, as if turning the painting inside out, exposing its skeleton. In these structural weaves you can see, here and there, subtle stains and blurs, remnants of the paint that passed through there. The question of time is this way manifested by the memory traces of the process. Finally, the fragility of paper reinforces the idea of the transitory, the passenger, of what is in permanent transformation.
In the “Orbits” series, the artist synthesizes the two previous elements: form and structure. The process becomes more complex, opposing tensions of expansion and contraction. Planetary orbits? Cellular plasma? Universes, multiverses, gluons, quarks, tissue of time. A universe composed of light and things that tries to encompass macrocosms and microcosms, from the most indivisible parts of matter to the imaginary rings of Saturn. Worlds, planispheres and the paint itself are sucked in by an accelerated vortex.
Art is a matter of constant searching and constant doubting. Seen this way, the artist's process is a permanent process. This is where the consistency of her art lies, even when the work seems disparate in the creative cacophony. Because the artist seeks, far beyond method and discipline and even beyond wanting to find answers, a tireless and legitimate wanting to find questions.
With her paintings, cuttings and objects, Karen Axelrud opens a window to her elegant creative universe.
Themis Cheinquer has a degree in Art History from Paris X University, Nanterre, and obtained a PhD in Art History from the Louvre School in Paris, focusing on the analysis of sculpture and the perception of space. Her thesis, defended in 2021, is titled Sculpture, Espace, Perception: Auguste Rodin, Medardo Rosso et Alberto Giacometti.