Karen Stephens is an Australian born artist based in far remote Queensland. Working predominately in the field of Australian landscape painting, her immersion in the environment informs a sustained investigation of the outback landscape, and she uses its inner regions as fertile ground to explore the personal as the universal.
Working through a naïve aesthetic, Karen’s expressionistic figure in landscape paintings concentrate on the felt experience of landscape and often deconstruct the traditional perspectives of wide-open landscapes from the Western Canon to build one that is imagined and spatially constructed.
Karen is known for her ‘Bushranger‘ paintings which she conceives as contemporary self-portraits. Her paintings disrupt associations of the gaze, and uniquely re-situate the legend of Bushranger from a female perspective.
Karen completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from Griffith University, Queensland College of Art in 2017 and since graduating committed her focus to contemporary landscape painting – a field that is one of the most dominant, evolving subjects in Australian Art since the 19th Century. Karen works from a regional perspective and her innovative works have secured her positions in significant public art projects, artist in residency programmes (Margaret Olley Centre, Nancy Fairfax AIR) and shortlisted in several prestigious prizes in her early career. Karen has been a finalist in the 2020 Percival Portrait Prize for Painting and her works have been chosen as finalists in the Mosman Art Prize, John Leslie Art Prize, Pro Hart Outback Art Prize, Parliament Plein Air Art Prize and the Elaine Bermingham National Prize for Watercolour in Landscape Painting. In 2015 she was awarded Griffith University, Queensland College of Art’s ‘Bonnie English Memorial Award’ for the highest result in Fine Art Theory and the highest result for Theory in her Major of Contemporary Painting. In 2016 Karen won the Major Award of the Flying Arts Alliance’s 2016 Queensland Regional Art Awards state touring exhibition ‘Colours of Queensland.’ Her works that have a strong connection to Queensland have toured the state four times with the annual curated exhibition.
Karen is represented by GALA Gallery Rockhampton, Queensland.