Karen Gunderson’s black paintings explore luminosity and push the limits of painterly gesture. Working exclusively in black oils, Gunderson focuses the act of painting on the relationship between brushstroke and light. “By using only blacks, I’m forcing the focus onto the brush strokes reflected by the light,” she says. “I paint a form, an image with black paint, and the light makes them visible, like magic.” Gunderson’s highly reflective surfaces cause the paintings to sparkle and shift as the viewer moves about the artwork.
Karen Gunderson was born in Racine, Wisconsin, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Wisconsin State University, Whitewater. She earned both a Master of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, in Painting and Intermedia, respectively. Gunderson has been the subject of numerous one-person shows in the United States, Spain, and Bulgaria. Shen has received numerous honors and awards, most notably a Lorenzo Magnifico Prize in Painting at the 2001 Florence Biennale (Italy), and has been named by noted critic Donald Kuspit as one of the “New Old Masters.”