Karla Black

Untitled, 2011

£140

Body paint on sugar paper
Each unique
Edition of 150
15 x 10cm (unfolded)
Signed and numbered by the artist
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About the artist

Karla Black’s abstract sculptures explore material and physical experience as a way of communicating and understanding the world around us. She is interested in ideas of play and early childhood learning as well as the raw creative moment when art comes into being. She explores the capabilities of materials as well as the limits of what sculpture can be.

Usually made in response to the space where they will be shown, and often created with ephemeral materials, her works have ranged from delicate cellophane, paper and polythene hanging pieces suspended with ribbon or tape to large-scale floor-based sculptures made from plaster, chalk powder and soil.

Black skillfully draws out and plays with the physical properties of everyday materials such as soap, eye shadow, cotton wool, petroleum jelly, toothpaste and lip-gloss. She uses these in combination with traditional art supplies to invite us to understand them in a new and different way. Although many of the materials used may serve as a reminder of the intimate, daily acts that are commonly associated with women, such as applying make-up and domestic chores, Black does not select them for this reason. Instead her concern is with the physical merits of matter: its texture, colour and feel, rather than any cultural connotations. Similarly the artist’s regular use of pale pastel colours, in particular her fondness for baby blues and pinks, is not intended as a comment on gender. 

Karla Black (b. 1972, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire; lives/ works in Glasgow) studied Sculpture at Glasgow School of Art from 1995 to 1999. She gained an MPhil in Art in Organisational Contexts (1999–2000), and her MFA in 2002–4. Solo exhibitions have been staged at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2013), the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2012), and the Migros Museum, Zurich (2009), among others. Her works are held within many prestigious collections including the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, The Hammer Museum, LA, and Tate. In 2011 she represented Scotland at the 54th Venice Biennale, and she was nominated for the Turner Prize in the same year. The artist had an early presentation at Studio Voltaire in 2005 as a part of NOT YET NIGHT, a one night only exhibition curated by Babak Ghazi. The artist is represented by Modern Art/Stuart Shave, London, Galerie Capitain, Cologne and David Zwirner, London/New York.

Studio Voltaire has been supporting artists for over twenty years, through our renowned programme of exhibitions, performances, events and education projects as well as providing affordable studios.

We have gained a reputation for championing both emerging and underrepresented artistic practices, often at key stage in the artist’s career. These have included Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Phyllida Barlow, Ruth Ewan, Elizabeth Price, Jo Spence, Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan, Richard Slee and Cathy Wilkes.

The gallery also provides an important UK platform for international artists, often providing them their first-ever presentation in the UK. These have included Nairy Baghramian, Thea Djordjadze, Nicole Eisenman, Judith Hopf, Paulina Olowska and Henrik Olesen.