Karla Black

Solo Exhibition

Karla Black will develop an expansive site specific sculpture at The Power Plant for her first solo exhibition in Canada.


Karla Black’s sculptures hover between sculpture, painting, installation, and performance, challenging easy categorization. Her work comprises everyday materials such as eye shadow, Vaseline, lipstick, cotton wool and toilet paper alongside more traditional art-making mediums including pigment, plaster and paint. Carefully arranged on the floor or suspended from the ceiling, her works are typically made on site to produce an immersive experience. Black’s work draws from a multiplicity of artistic traditions including expressionist painting, land art, performance and formalism.

The works engage in pure abstraction, whereby the suspension of associations, symbolic or metaphorical, is part of the physical and optical experience with the sculptures. Somewhat like a landscape, the phenomenological impact of the work as both sculpture and site is the primary mode through which to encounter Black’s delicate and monumental works. The colours the artist uses are often pastels: soft pinks, greens, blues and yellows. These are self-contained gestures and not intended to draw associations with elements in the external world. The artist resists any gendered reading of the work, and language is perceived to be a limiting framework in approaching the purely material experience which her work offers. Traces of the process of making—such as fingerprints and dust—are often left upon the surface of the works. Black’s works are wrought in the form of becoming or unraveling, as though "suspending gesture in space," interrogating materiality on a molecular scale. Just as our world is perpetually in a state of flux, so is Karla Black’s work.

For her exhibition at The Power Plant, the artist will produce a new site-specific, large-scale immersive sculpture that engages with the particular spatial and light qualities of the gallery.

Karla Black (born 1972 in Alexandria, United Kingdom) currently lives and works in Glasgow, United Kingdom. Her work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at institutions, including kestnergesellschaft in Hanover, Germany (2013); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2013); Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (2013); Dallas Museum of Art (2012); Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2012); Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (2012); Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nuremberg, Germany (2010); Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2009); Kunstverein Hamburg (2009); Modern Art Oxford (2009) and the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (2009) among others. In 2011, the artist represented Scotland at the 54th Venice Biennale and was nominated for the Turner Prize.