The Art of Karen Lebergott
In the surface-accreting layers of my paintings, I convey the overlapping of cultures and varied populations. Histories provide the backbone for my work, but recreating history is often problematic as well as futile because of the shifting perspectives of the historian as well as those of the reader. Memory and fact are slippery concepts that continually evolve, and my artwork exemplifies the associative and contingent nature both of memory and what we think of as fact. I understand fragmentation – a by-product of contemporary life – as a visual attempt at capturing memory, efforts marked through indecision and omission. There is no one single narrative.
I also explore the impact of political and national authority on the social structures of cultures worldwide. Combining specific architectural references, landscape, and language in painting, I seek to define the perilous nature of cultural identity. Though the majority of my artwork uses landscape and architecture as reference points, the ideas underlying them arc from accommodation of cultures to their conflicts. Language often supersedes the visual, thus dominating the discourse of national superiority over cultural autonomy.
Some recent work references both military acronyms and children’s rhymes. Both seem playful but mask the seriousness of the subtext of the rhymes and the power of the military language. Their use references the language of deception and its authority. Thus, the possibility for accommodation is eradicated. Between the text and the surface of the built layers of paint lies doubt.