Karla Black
2 June — 27 November 2011
Palazzo Pisani

Hovering between energy and mass in nine rooms of the Palazzo Pisani (S. Marina) is a solo exhibition of brand new ‘almost objects’ by the Scottish artist Karla Black. Intimately and painstakingly worked in situ into exquisitely detailed aesthetic forms, a still raw vastness of pure material and colour fills this 15th century Venetian palace. These abstract sculptures – pulverised, atomised, piled, layered, supported, suspended and spilled out onto the floor – offer a visceral experience of absorption in the material world. The artist’s professed love of powders, pastes, creams, oils and gels is in evidence here.

Karla Black

Karla Black prioritises material experience over language as a way to learn about and understand the world. Her sculptures are rooted in Kleinian Psychoanalysis, and in formlessness as it has been understood at specific moments in art history. Inherent in the work is also a lively interest in recent scientific theories about the behaviour of the material world – particularly developments in physics that show how, at quantum level, a particle can be in two places at once. Only when the particle is observed does it settle for a single position. Karla Black is captivated by the idea of the quantum world as a world of possibilities where nothing has yet decided what it is or what it will do.

In this major solo exhibition, commissioned by Scotland + Venice and curated by The Fruitmarket Gallery, forms and compositions in vaseline and marble dust, sugar paper and eye-shadow, soil, powder paint and plaster, polythene, cellophane and soap, in crumbling, peeling washes or dustings of high key mid-colours like peach, baby blue and pastel pink provoke at least an impetus towards a physical response. These sculptures are caught between thoughtless gestures and seriously obsessive attempts at beauty.

Karla Black talks about her exhibition at the 54th Venice Biennale


Curated by The Fruitmarket Gallery
Producer Katie Nicoll
Returned to Scotland The following year Karla Black presented a largescale installation at GoMA during Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art