What was included in these new paintings? What had been left out? Is a square neutral, does it deny the figure, deny the landscape? How much 'space' can be contained (or is it contained?) in 256 square inches, more or less than in 4,096 square inches? Are the colors seen or felt? How far can you go 'into' the painting?
These new abstract paintings are square in format, from 16 by 16 to 64 by 64 inches. The square holds the gaze. The paintings are built-up, layer by layer; they have a history. They are serious and informed. Some are melancholy, others active but emotionally restrained (e.g. Bridge). Color and the juxtaposition of colors, both are important. The dark paintings (e.g. Byzantine No. 2) are as much about color as the more 'colorful' paintings are about overall composition (e.g. little gold one). In other works, ghostly shapes suggest and then submerge themselves (e.g. Grey Lady - now in the collection of the Daum Museum).
The paintings give paint as a material its due. The paint is thick, thin, stretched, piled, gouged, marked. Subsequent marks respond thoughtfully to earlier ones. Yet, above all, the material is respected. The application is energetic but controlled.
A lot has been written about the 'new' abstract painting. Are there rules? This work is new abstract painting according to this painter's 'rules'.
Karen Owsley Nease has exhibited locally in solo and group exhibitions since receiving her BFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1993. In 1995, she was selected for inclusion in the publication New American Paintings (Midwestern Edition). She also holds a BS degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Kansas.