Karen Thomas

b. 1963. British painter living and working in Montpellier, France.


My work focuses primarily on the figure but it’s really about the paint and how far I can push it. The paintings shift in and out of focus, oscillating between figuration and abstraction, discarded for months, reworked and then sometimes but not always there’s a ‘moment de grace’ when a painting comes together. As a painter, I enjoy the challenge of addressing new themes which impose different constraints. Every collaboration is a new journey: I’m not always sure where I’m going, but that’s what’s interesting. I began painting in France in the late 80s when the Figuration Libre movement was le dernier cri. I painted with a thick black outline, cartoon style or Bande Dessinée. Over the years I’ve moved away from that but there are still elements of it in my work. Each project has led to development and change, whether in subject, size, medium or surface. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects, from illustrating a previously unpublished text by Jean Cocteau, to designing a set for a contemporary dancer or creating portraits of fifty people from my neighbourhood with a writer. I am shaped by my projects as they are shaped by me. My work has been shown both individually and in group exhibitions in the UK Europe and the US.