Karen Lise Krabbe :: UNDER
19 August - 30 September 2023
Karen Lise Krabbe’s exhibition UNDER introduces us to a fascinating universe of materials, sea, marine life and exploration.
A brief – and inaccurate – description of Karen Lise Krabbe’s work would be the story of an experimental craft maker who is fascinated with glass as a material. She takes a scientist’s approach to her work and explorations but never reaches the end of her studies, as one experiment leads to the next: her motivation springs from the process, not the result. Another, more apt, version would be the story of a seeking artist who remains ever fascinated by the world around her. An artist who is continually driven by the possibilities afforded by her material. Although her method is scientific, the result is art. Not the world’s greatest in scope or volume but imbued with a moving quality of poetry and sensitivity.
The prevailing theme of Karen Lise’s work seems to be the sea and the creatures that inhabit it. We sense botanical references to seashells, seaweed, underwater creatures, sand and so forth. In addition to her craft practice, she is the author of several books, especially on seaweed along the Danish coasts, including its life cycles and habitats, where it can be harvested and which species are good for eating.
After experimenting with glass for decades, developing methods for 3D casting in sand, experimenting with growing bio-cellulose on glass and conducting countless other studies, Karen Lise Krabbe has now developed a new material, gelled glass, which is right at the intersection of her interest in marine plant life and her practice as a glass artist. She uses alginate extracted from brown algae as the binding agent in glass. When exposed to a special saline solution, the mixture gels, resulting in a glass substance with similar properties to textile. In its cold state, this new material can be knitted, woven and folded. The method is a further development of the ancient technique of pâte de verre (glass paste), and the gelled glass powder offers completely novel ways of working with glass.
Karen Lise Krabbe’s art is a form of personal storytelling about the wonders of the world and her observations of them. Rooted in ancient glass traditions, it also constructs its own new and diverse world.
The exhibition UNDER presents Karen Lise Krabbe’s first comprehensive presentation of her experiments with and studies of gelled glass. The reference to the characteristics and life of the diverse plants and creatures in the sea is obvious but not necessarily deliberate. Karen Lise Krabbe’s art is a form of personal storytelling about the wonders of the world and her observations of them. Rooted in ancient glass traditions, it also constructs its own new and diverse world.
With her in-depth exploration of the material and unorthodox working methods, Karen Lise Krabbe has created a brand new material, which holds great artistic potential.
‘I engage in a form of unorganized basic research into GLASS and silicate minerals, which are a major component of glass. My motivation springs from the mumblings and chaos of materials and conduct experiments with material combinations. This is where a ‘third material’ emerges, a composite formed through the fusion of two or more existing materials. I build using powder and small elements, from surface to space to form, adding layer upon layer. The two-dimensional surface is raised into three-dimensional form: I call it supernature’
Karen Lise Krabbe (b. 1955) holds an MA in Danish, Spanish and dramaturgy. She has worked with glass since 1997 and has received the Hempel Glass Prize, the Ole Haslund artist grant, first prize in the Coburg Prize for Contemporary Glass and funding from the Danish Arts Foundation, among other accolades. In addition to participating in countless group exhibitions, she has held solo exhibitions in a number of galleries, at Glas: Museum of Glass Art in Ebeltoft, Denmark, and at the Hempel Glass Museum in Nykøbing Sjælland, Denmark. She lives and works in Aarhus, Denmark.