Karla Black’s work has a tendency to make one feel like they’ve entered another world. The sculptor represented Scotland in the 2011 Venice Biennale and her multi-room installation in an old palazzo was a dreamy pastel vision, the wafting clouds of cellophane and powder offset by neatly raked dirt floors and peeling paint of the building.
Mouthwatering shades of apricot and pistachio were mirrored in the faded wallpaper of the Palazzo Pisani and towered in pigmented mountains over visitors’ heads.
By virtue of their formlessness, Karla Black’s sculptures seem both minimal and excessive, rigourous and fragile, evoking ideals and concepts surrounding women and their roles.
Her sculptures and installations, made up of everyday domestic and cosmetic materials such as Vaseline, powder, fake tan and shampoo, are transformed into monumental piles and scattered across the floor, allowing the viewer to ponder their own interpretation of the works.
Black’s work never fails to exude a sense of playful femininity, and are as much about the durational progress of assembly as they are the final work. Her practice plays on ideas about rituals and process, and the sculptures are compelling in their dichotomy between attraction and repulsion – each work being so tactile, yet so obviously breakable.
A tension also exists between the pale, translucent materials she uses and their application on a grand scale, often dwarfing the rooms the are displayed in.
Whether it’s a physical reaction or a psychological questioning that occurs for the viewer standing in front of Karla Black’s work, the effect they provoke is difficult to describe in words.