Julie Karabenick

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

I have long been fascinated by the expressive power of simple geometric shapes. These immutable forms are known to us on a deep level; as such, they are richly evocative. In nonobjective art they can function as familiar signposts that ease our passage into novel visual terrain.

In my earlier Composition Series, I limited myself to a few geometric shapes—to squares and rectangles of flat, uninflected color. Each right-angled shape arises from an underlying matrix of small, same-sized squares. This implicit grid governs the space with its harmonious order: all shapes and intervals derive from it and are thus proportionally related to one another. We are sensitive to this regularity, though it may remain at least partially outside our awareness. From the stability and symmetry of the grid, I developed compositions that are to some degree asymmetrical and dynamically balanced.

More recently I have incorporated diagonal lines and shapes into my work. These diagonals greatly heighten the energy and tension among the colors and forms. Diagonals also enhance the feeling of depth in my work, allowing me to play implied space against flatness and to create spatial ambiguity. In my previous work asymmetries were small and gentle, whereas in my current work I strive for highly asymmetrical balance and often feel like I’m dancing on an imagined dividing line between order and disorder. I find this level of risk-taking in maintaining compositional coherence both challenging and exciting. A precarious and shifting order prevails, but often its rules remain elusive. This openness invites a unique engagement with each individual viewer.

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