Black’s new series of paintings are based on small, fragile Syrian glass vessels from the 3rd and 4th century, which she discovered recently in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. These glass objects have miraculously outlived centuries of conflict. Their shapes, originally Roman in form, have informed the making of glass and ceramics through the centuries, mutating, each iteration enhanced with another layer of history, culture and tradition.
With mathematic precision, Black has peeled back these layers and worked with the original forms, dramatically increasing the scale to allow their curved surfaces to act as her canvas on which she depicts theatrically obscured figures veiled in drips and splashes of hand coloured clay slips. Black’s paintings explore themes of history, religion and war and the fragility of her medium mirrors the fragile complexity of the current global political situation.
Archaeological evidence suggests the first glass blowing techniques were developed in 50BC in an area that includes the Hatay province of Turkey where Black worked with the Karam Foundation in 2015. Inspired by the process, Black will present Gathering, a sound based installation for Sutton Gallery’s entrance space.
Instantly her new works speak of time, weight and form, the scale is provocative and the imagery deceptively decorative and at a closer look, sobering. Her installation of these works is almost shrine-like and promotes silence and contemplation of one’s own beliefs and homeland.
Karen Black completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at Griffith University in 2011 and currently lives and works in Brisbane. In 2014 she was awarded the Belle Arti Prize and was the Art and Australia/Credit Suisse Private Banking Contemporary Art Award recipient the year prior. Karen Black’s recent exhibitions of note include Borders, Barriers, Walls, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne 2016; Arrival, Sullivan+Strumpf Singapore, 2016; Glazed and confused, Ceramics in contemporary art practice, Hazlehurst Regional Gallery, Gymea, NSW, 2015; Sydney Contemporary, Sydney, 2015, Peace is Guilty, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2014; Spring 1883, Sutton Gallery, Windsor Hotel, Melbourne, 2014; Art & Australia Collection 2003-2013, Hazlehurst Regional Gallery, NSW, 2013; ART Hong Kong, 2012; Art Fair Tokyo, 2012 and in 2011; both Art Stage Singapore and was the Global Spotlight Artist at Art Taipei. Black’s works are held in prestigious public collections including Monash University Museum of Art, Griffith University Art Gallery, Artbank, Macquarie Bank Collection, The Australian War Memorial and the Salsali Private Museum, Dubai, in addition to various private collections both in Australia and overseas. Black will exhibit works in the upcoming Painting. More Painting, Chapter One, ACCA and is a current finalist in the 2016 Gold Award, Rockhampton Art Gallery.Artist’s profile