Lois Lambert Gallery presents Floating Strings, the most recent exhibition of work by German artist Karen Simon.

Karen Simon works with a combination of acrylic, gouache, ink, and thread. She begins with a piece of unstretched canvas, painting washes of color that stain and bleed across the canvas in loose forms. Simon then brings out the details in each image with embroidered thread, often leaving long strings loose and floating across the canvas. Together, the intricate woven threads and delicately painted areas make up an image that emerges out of the fibers of the canvas.

Simon began as a costume and set designer, working in theatre while she continued to draw and paint on her own. Working with thread as a costume designer, Simon began experimenting sewing on different types of paper and eventually decided to add this to her paintings. Working intuitively, Simon explores the three-dimensionality of the thread woven overtop her paintings and imagines that she is “trying to find a way out,” weaving in and out of the world and moving between the dark and the light. Each painting is meant to be viewed as an adventure into the scene depicted.

Inspired by the combination of dreamlike surrealism and reality, and the parallel between light and dark in Simon’s work, German composer and musician Tobias Vethake wrote a specific musical composition for this body of work. In this piece, Vethake incorporates an electric cello with analog instruments, to create emotional soundscapes relating directly to Simon’s paintings.

Expression is finding a way to the deep, unconscious of the audience. The appearance of my artwork is a paradox between powerful presence and physical fragility and frailty. My work is often created in parallel with design aspects of theatre and unconventional locations. This interplay between different venues portrayed in my paintings can often look like installations. Not only do the frames of my pieces become the main characters, but the room becomes their scene. In the process of my work, hands and mind create organically and simultaneously as I use different materials like wire, thread, paints, inks, canvas, paper and fabrics. These materials allow me to combine techniques with my senses and to feel into my art. As the thread outlines the final piece, my work is representing different layers of sensuality.

Within my work, background and foreground are obsolete. It arises dreamlike pictures, scary and captivating. Different perspectives are possible, different perspectives are necessary. Joy, fear, grief and ease can co-exist. The audience can take a grasp of materialized moments and the glimpse of a second transported into three-dimensionality. Fantastic rooms and precarious architecture is directed into unsteady internal spaces, with limitless borders.

(Karen Simon)

Karen Simon received a diploma in Set and Costume Design from the University of the Arts in Berlin, Germany in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts in 1996. Her work in costume design earned her the award for Best Young Costume Designer from the Theater Heute in Germany.

Her paintings have been exhibited in Germany, Italy, and Korea. Floating Strings at Lois Lambert Gallery is Karen Simon’s first solo exhibition in the United States.