KARLENA FLETCHER




Double-Pane Window, 2021. Oil on panel. 14 × 11 in.
Inside, Looking In, 2021. Oil on canvas. 15 × 16 in.
Ocean, 2021. Oil on panel. 14 × 11 in.

In a window, glass becomes more than a shiny, transparent material: it is the meeting place of two worlds. I study the windows in my fourth-floor apartment every day, entranced by the way glass captures, combines, and distorts light outside with light inside, creating a naturally occurring painting.

In reality, one’s eyes may focus beyond a window one second, then refocus, suddenly confronted by reflections. My paintings consider both external and internal focuses simultaneously. They borrow from compositions on my windows, rearrange the content even further, and ultimately produce a world of ambiguous shapes or unrecognizable lights. These images perplex viewers as they walk the line between representation and abstraction. Is that a street lamp or an overhead fluorescent? The glow within my closet, or a television across the street?

My practice is rooted in my longstanding sensibility of noticing and preserving the beauty in overlooked places. I share this sensibility with numerous postwar observational painters, including Lois Dodd, Jane Freilicher, and Fairfield Porter. I align myself with this movement’s rejection of the grand, newfound, and political, instead accepting meaning from the everyday and the mundane.

The illusionistic techniques essential to these paintings require materials that can mimic the subject in texture and color. I religiously prime and sand my supports for days until the surface feels like glass. I render the image through many glazes of oil, each adding vibrancy and depth. Painting in thin layers provides opportunities to add, remove, pull forward, or push back elements as I discover them in person or recall them from memory. These slow processes allow for a paradoxical meditation on this temporal subject. Painting glass demands diligence and patience, therefore teaching me and the viewer to study minute details, appreciate mistakes, and commit exquisite visual moments to memory.