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Market Paintings

     In these works, Silve captures the experience, discovering life’s little moments of energy and inspiration on the way to more obvious destinations in culture and nature. While her Market paintings capture the whirlwind of energy around masses of people moving through their arrays of produce in a Mexican marketplace, Silve’s nature paintings record the immersive intimacy experienced by a soul in search of a sacred place. Rather than zero in on notable landmarks, Silve pauses to consider the special aha! moments of quiet appreciation of life in culture and nature.

     Many of the paintings in Silve’s current body of work are based on momentary synaesthetic impressions of interaction with nature. For the more immersive works, Silve regularly goes hiking in the Columbia Gorge, in Oregon, a favorite area for nature lovers because of its abundant waterfalls. Silve finds plenty of nature to capture her attention along the path. Preferring the intimacy of being part of nature as opposed to the distance implied by the awe-inspiring aura of natural beauty, Silve paints apparently expressionistic but actually phenomenological abstractions that merge her subjectivity and the informe’ profusion of her natural surroundings. Her Sacred Place paintings exemplifies the almost mandala-like abstractions Silve extracts from the enlightened apprehension of a nondescript place in nature becoming, by some special intuition of connection, sacred to her psyche.

     Silve’s drive to capture energy and only energy carries over to human busyness as well in the Market paintings. Market IV “represents” Silve’s thrilling encounter with the all-over energy of a Mexican marketplace. Piles of fruits, vegetables, spices, nuts, fabric, clothing, crafts and flowers fill the visual eye field along with assaulting odors of raw meat, fish and body smells of eager villagers hustling-and-bustling while negotiating the best price. In a recent trip to Mexico, Silve had a eureka moment when she realized that the blitz of special micro-moments of the marketplace experience was a cultural counterpart to the what she was looking for in contact with nature.

     Silve’s work involves not just the eye’s capture of light but the body’s sense of its orientation in complex natural space. In addition to the obvious similarities to the work of Joan Mitchell, Silve also draws inspiration from less apparent influences, Cy Twombly poetic use of the drip, at times lyrical and even resigned, as well as Gerhard Richter’s ability to re-present found imagery in ways that are rendered, disconnecting paint from subject matter, both there and not there, present and absent, have both inspired Silve. Both of these painters deconstruct master narratives of nature or history in order to find personal niches of meaning in a world of slipping-away signifiers: Silve has sought to inform her work with that wisdom, while at the same time restoring a more structuralist appreciation of the strength and power of nature (undoubtedly derived from her experience as a nature lover not just an artist). As Silve states, describing her process of painting, “I….get lost in my surroundings, transcending from a practical place to an emotional and instinctive one.”

market paintingsKaren Silve