David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Karla Black, the artist’s second solo show with the gallery. On view at 525 West 19th Street in New York will be sculptures made specifically for the space and completed on site.
Combining traditional artistic materials such as chalk, paper, paint, and plaster with everyday items including eye shadow, earth, ribbon, toilet paper, and cotton wool, Black’s works are at once elaborate and simple, expressive and restrained. They challenge their own medium by being “almost” or “only just” objects with a close affinity to painting, performance art, and installation. As the artist notes, the “most important thing about the work is that it prioritizes material experience over language as a way to learn about and understand the world.”
Hanging sculptures with contrasting densities, forms, and sizes open up the exhibition to an irregular, ovoid-shaped work covering over 800 square feet of the floor. Consisting of plaster powder and powder paint, it features interspersed curved shapes in white, pink, and various earth-toned hues. Colored toilet paper delicately divides the sculpture’s surface and lines its perimeter, affording a sense of structure to an otherwise formless substance, while the various textures of the materials add a sense of movement to the space. As the art historian Briony Fer has observed, Black’s work oscillates between materiality and immateriality: “This is the ‘as if’ of all art that claims to be able to hold onto autonomous expression.…Her work makes it possible to see affinities between things and possibilities for art today which were for a long time thought to be impossible—the possibility for an aesthetic that is both utopian and materialist, both pictorial and sculptural.”¹
Karla Black was born in 1972 in Alexandria, Scotland. She received her B.F.A. in sculpture in 1999 from the Glasgow School of Art, followed by her M.F.A. in 2004. In 2014, Black joined David Zwirner and had her first gallery solo exhibition in New York the same year.
In 2015, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin hosted a solo show featuring new works made by the artist specifically for the museum space.
Since the early 2000s, Black’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions, including a presentation of new sculptures shown in 2013 at the kestnergesellschaft in Hanover, Germany. Also on view in 2013 was her first museum show in the United States hosted by the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Other venues which have presented recent solo exhibitions include the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (2013); Dallas Museum of Art; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (all 2012); Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nuremberg, Germany (2010); Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich; Kunstverein Hamburg; Modern Art Oxford, England; and the Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (all 2009).
In 2011, the artist represented Scotland at the 54th Venice Biennale and was nominated for the Turner Prize. Her work is held in museum collections worldwide, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Tate Gallery, London. She currently lives and works in Glasgow.
¹Briony Fer, “Karla Black’s abstraction,” Karla Black: Scotland + Venice. Exh. cat. (Glasgow: The Fruitmarket Gallery, 2011; published on the occasion of the artist’s solo presentation at the 54th Venice Biennale), n.p.