Karen Birnholz EN

Karen Birnholz
When Paint Becomes the Painting

Question of balance

Pigmented cement

Pigmented cement

90x80 cm.


Pigmented cement

59x59 cm.

He never said goodbye
Pigmented cement
63x63 cm.

With all the materials used in art today, what is it that distinguishes a painting from an object or a sculpture?  Is it the way it’s approached during the process of creation or how it’s viewed on completion? And if it’s taken off the wall, can it still be called a painting?  These are some of the questions Karen Birnholz explores in her use of cement as a medium.


Birnholz: “Cement is an amazing material. It has freedom and movement, is pliable, and can be as expressive as oil on canvas. Once dried there is no other surface than that of the applied material. No canvas or board. With the immediacy of three dimensions there is a strength, presence of sculpture.”


There could be a tendency to misread her work as sculpture or painted objects, but they are paintings. The pigment penetrates the vehicle and enters into the interior space. Freeing itself from the surface, it becomes the composition and defines the forms. ‘The Paint is the Painting’.


Color - or to be more precise, the sensuality of color - is an important element in Birnholz’ work. “I want the viewer to feel and experience color.” The contradiction between the roughness of the material, cement, and the sensation of pure color is what makes Birnholz’ paintings one of a kind.


Combining the principles of painting and the structural complexity of cement, while at the same time exploring the dynamics of weight and balance associated with sculpture, her work breaks through the limitations of painting but still holds onto its principles.


“I didn‘t choose cement, cement chose me”.  For over 25 years the artist has been focusing on the exploration of cement as her medium.  By pushing its boundaries while embracing its challenges, the artist has found her unique language.

If only I could read your mind

Pigmented cement

65x60 cm.

Going nuts
pigmented cement

32xc22 cm

Cool sand on a hot day
Pigmented cement
68x50 cm.

OK, it's cherry

Pigmented cement

78x50 cm.


Pigmented cement
70x45 cm

Looking at Motherwell!

Pigmented cement
77x77 cm.