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Karen Aarre is a Norwegian/British visual artist, born in London in 1972. She is currently living and working in Oslo, Norway.


She has studied at Faculdade das Belas Artes (Faculty of Visual Arts), University of Lisbon, Portugal, and at De Vrije Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten (The Free Academy of Visual Arts), the Hague, the Netherlands. She also holds a doctorate (DPhil) in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford, UK, and has several years experience working in documentary film prior to her artistic career.

She is a member of NBK, LNM, BO, and her work is part of several public and private collections.


Artist statement

For close to 15 years, I have focused on plants, gardens and man-made landscapes through painting, drawing and intaglio printing. I explore the intersection between the natural and the man-made, the wild and the tamed, nature and culture, the eternal and the transitory. I am interested in the history of interaction between humans and nature, as well as the future of their coexistence. I am concerned about the ways we impoverish nature and wipe out species for short-term financial gain. However, my work seeks to highlight the magical encounters between people and nature - where the senses are awakened, and where wonder, contemplation, poetry and imagination arise.

Botanical gardens, parks and private gardens are the inspiration and starting point for my work. This is nature shaped and tamed by humans. Gardens and parks tell complex stories about science, power, oppression and status, but also about human needs, artistic expression, dreams, joy and imagination. My artistic process involves research into garden history, botanical gardens, herbariums, botanical art, as well as meetings with academics and gardeners. I also draw inspiration and knowledge from my previous studies in social anthropology . Through painting I express my own experiences of concern, wonder and admiration in the face of this cultivated nature.

Aside from my botanical work, I am also a portrait artist, and regularly take commissions.

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