She calls her new paintings vertical landscapes. Each of KAREN ARM's meticulously painted color fields gives way upon closer inspection to illusionistic expanses whether of the starry sky, water, roots or some other naturally occurring structure. Their verticality invokes allusions to heaven and earth; their color sets up an emotional environment.
In each of these paintings ARM makes an infinite number of short repetitive marks on a large plane of flat color in an effort to reveal the natural as consisting of complex organic structures. When standing before a large painting, which hangs low on the wall and measures about the size of an average person, there is a place between the breadth of the field and the specificity of the mark where you can enter and drift in the space.
In Untitled (blue, branches) 1998-99 the branches of this organic structure seem to float just above the canvas. The delicate lines whirl in an upward and circular motion forming a double helix that is, in the manner of a portrait, contained within the boundaries of the canvas. It is not clear what it is that ARM is here depicting. But in the age of the electron microscope, the possibilities abound. In Untitled (orange, grass) 1998-99 the vertical plane becomes an organic network of blades of grass that have seemingly grown up out of the canvas and into a lush carpet. An arm's length from the painting you can study every stroke. At this distance you can determine the color and length of each line and how an individual line relates to both the flat plane of color behind it and the other marks that surround it. From across the room, however, the painting appears to be pure abstraction.
P·P·O·W is proud to present KAREN ARM's New York debut on the heels of a successful solo exhibition which showed at Pierogi 2000, January-February 1998.