Karen Kaapcke: Drowning In Sorrow

Drowning In Sorrow

What is the one object you would save in a catastrophic event after you are sure your safety and that of others is secured and if you knew you had just enough time to save one material object?

Your answer goes here________________________.

My answer would be my documentation. I wasn’t born here. I have a leather bag in my closet and I have instructed my grown children if anything happens where we have to get out quickly such in the case of third world war to grab this leather bag which contains their birth certificates, my citizenship papers, licenses, papers proving we owned seized land in Cuba, my passport (which has expired I just realized), graduation certificates, and such. These papers are all I have to show that I belong here. 

Karen Kaapcke | oil on linen | 48x96 inches

Karen Kaapcke | oil on linen | 48x96 inches

I also belong in the alienation in this painting especially when I have had to deal with domestic violence.  There I am in a corner of my room while my father paces the hallway. There I am holding my baby in a grocery store calling the police.... There I am again and again.

I don’t know that much about Karen Kaapcke’s personal life. I know she has adolescent children. I know she lives in New York. I know she paints in oil. I know she spends as much time contemplating a painting as she does actually applying paint.

This painting is a diptych, 48x96 inches, oil on linen. No title has been given at time of press. This painting works well as a diptych because of the narrative depicting possibly two sides to a story. There is what seems to be a water level which is at knee length on the first piece and it rises to above the waist in the second work therefore creating a flow to the two works. 

On the painting on the left there is a headless figure slightly to the right center hovering and in the middle there is a full figure clutching to themselves. Karen has created despair in this work by painting the blond figure in a protective pose on higher ground and a reflection of the objects across the flowing water and across the legs of the menacing hovering body. The dark tones of the hovering body itself may reflect  depression, sorrow, anger, death. 

The figures on the right are a couple holding on to each other and clutching on to what is dear to them. The water here is not only higher than waist level but also flowing above them as if they are being baptized. Baptismal of relinquished hope, faith, and love. What is important here and what I think Karen is ultimately trying to bring across no matter what the situation is; will love save us or will we drown in our own sorrow. 

Karen's use of color is very important here. If she had used bright colors the answers to our questions would be clear jumping off the canvas. Instead, Karen she uses muted colors so we may figure it out for ourselves.


Find out more about Karen Kaapcke on her web site.


Didi Menendez publishes artists and loves poets.

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