Karen Wykerd is a Cape Town-based artist who works across a range of media. Using embroidery and painting – on canvas, paper or glass – she combines dissolution with detail to express her ongoing fascination with everyday city life.
From her easel she explores both urban and natural environments, constantly in pursuit of light. Her endless search takes her down busy streets, forest paths and high above the city. Captured first in photography and then in pigment or thread, her understated scenes are defined and transformed by light. Each individual brushstroke or stitch reveals the ever-evolving interaction between sunlight and shadow. For Wykerd, a city is a place whose energy materialises in the meeting point of such dualities – concrete and trees, grids and the flow of water, rhythm and stillness, control and chance.
Process is an important part of the work. While Wykerd’s considered mark-making is meditative, the slow layering of brushstrokes, combined with translucent washes of soft colour, allow her to depict light in all its changing qualities. There are also elements of serendipity at play, acknowledging the necessity of exploring the
unfamiliar in order to gain insight.
Wykerd’s work is a quiet reverie. Whether she depicts a dappled pool, a shaded street or golden beach, the muted scenes she captures are calm oases amid the distractions of contemporary living. Her translucent washes of verdant colour around figures swimming, strolling and floating create scenes of immersion in nature.
By including such figures in her work, she invites her audience to share her vision. The dreamily indistinct backgrounds and tranquil palette combine to give us moments of rest and reflection where we can be reacquainted with nature, and our selves.