Aaron Karp is a practicing artist of more than 40 years. Originally from New York, he has lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, since 1979 where he worked as an Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of New Mexico until 1984. For the thirty years since leaving the University he has painted full time, has exhibited his work extensively, and has received recognition through a number of awards, grants, and artist-in-residencies.
In 1976 Karp developed a style of painting utilizing various systems of taping to develop fractured fields of color and space. Shortly afterwards, in 1979, his work was recognized in major exhibitions at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh entitled “Systems,” as well as a second exhibition in that same year at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem. From 1977 to 1979 Karp was Gallery Director and Lecturer of Design Fundamentals at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.
In 1983 Mr. Karp was included in the Guggenheim Museum’s national exhibition “New Perspectives in American Art.” According to Guggenheim Museum Curator Diane Waldman, in a catalog essay for the show, “His paintings function on the level of pure perceptual phenomena—as statements about color, line and movement—as complex and inventive commentaries about the visual stimuli generated by the worlds of nature and art.”
In 1981–82 Aaron Karp was awarded the first of two artist-in-residencies he received through the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program in Roswell, New Mexico. The second was awarded in 1985–86. In 1987 his work was once again shown in an exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum entitled “Emerging Artists 1978–86: Selections from the Exxon Series.” In 1989 Karp had a major one-man show of his work at the Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery in New York, followed shortly after in 1990 by a retrospective exhibition at the State University of New York at Albany’s Fine Arts Museum. In 1992 the Amarillo Museum did an exhibition of “Stolen Objects,” his series of paintings that combined still life elements with shifting layers of paint. In his catalog essay for the show, James Moore, Director of the Albuquerque Museum, writes: “The broken color of the paint creates the illusion of movement, it vibrates in the retina, it pulls everything forward and continually reduces the space that the objects themselves define. It is as if these paintings have stolen the objects they contain and hold them hostage to their own purposes.”
In 1994 Karp was included in a group exhibition entitled “Modernism in New Mexico” at the Fine Arts Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, followed in 1997 by “Eye Dazzlers” at the University of New Mexico Fine Art Museum. He was awarded an artist-in-residency in 1998 at the Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado, where he produced a folio of six large-scale digital prints combining visual information and source material from his paintings entitled “Occurrence at Owl Creek Road.”
In 2000 Karp was invited to a pair of residencies, one at The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and the second at The Djerassi Resident Artist Program in Woodside, California. The paintings produced during these two residencies made up a series of paintings that the artist titled “Somersault” that were featured in one-person shows in 2001 at the R. Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis, Missouri, and in 2002 at the Carson-Masuoka Gallery in Denver, Colorado. In his essay that accompanied the two shows, William Peterson, arts writer and former publisher of “Artspace” writes: “An extraordinary playfulness animates these paintings, and the crystalline imagery chimes with a music of its own making. Emitting their own unearthly light, the decorative devices mock natural forms and comprise a mesmerizing mechanical universe fraught with droll whimsy and wit. I am not the first to notice that the busy artificial space in Karp’s paintings resembles the shimmering, fragmented, and rhythmically dynamic space that the Italian Futurists achieved when they set Picasso and Braque’s Analytic Cubism in motion. Though startlingly original, these paintings connect to a long artistic tradition that toys with artifice, playing with the tricks of the trade and inherited conventions to question the relationship between art and reality.”
In 2001 Karp was awarded a Pollock-Krasner grant and in 2002 a Kittredge Foundation grant. Also in 2002 he was awarded an artist-in-residency in Costa Rica at the Julia and David White Artists’ Colony. In 2004 Karp was awarded a residency and a monetary grant through the Robert M. MacNamara Foundation located on Westport Island, Maine. In 2006 the Fundacion Valparaiso in Mojacar, Almeria, Spain, awarded him an artist-in-residency. In October, 2007 he was invited for two months as a visiting artist at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska, and in February 2008 Karp had a solo exhibition entitled “Bemis Grids” at the Albuquerque Museum. In 2013 Karp was awarded an endowed fellowship for an artist-in-residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst, Virginia, and in 2019 he was invited to participate at Tau Hua Tan International Artist-in-Residency in Anhui Province, China.
His most recent exhibitions include shows at Duane Reed Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri; William Havu Gallery, Denver, Colorado; Lee Hansley Gallery, Raleigh, North Carolina; Duke University Fine Art Museum, Durham, North Carolina; Artspace/Virginia Miller Galleries, Coral Gables, Miami, Florida; LA Artcore, Los Angeles, California; New Concept Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Roswell Museum, Roswell, New Mexico; and Jean Albano Gallery, Chicago, Illinois.