Karen Black’s Temporary Arrangements focuses on a selection of ceramics from her presentation in the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award at Shepparton Art Museum earlier this year.
The exhibition symbolises resilience and endurance through dramaturgical dialogues themed around war, and female driven narratives across time and place. Black’s large sculptural forms are based on third and fourth century vessels seen by the artist at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum; these forms have miraculously outlived centuries of conflict and remain recognisable today as they are reinterpreted across contemporary ceramics and culture. The artist has meticulously scaled up the artefacts and by doing so has heightened the awareness of the lines and ornate stems against their voluptuous curves. Her vessels are imbued with oils on their unglazed surfaces, just like the original forms, embedded in the clay. This olfactory presence powerfully acknowledges the historical and contemporary relevance of these forms.
For Temporary Arrangements a significant painting backdrops the installation and affectively bridges the organic forms and gestural hand-coloured slips of her ceramic sculptures to her two dimensional picture plane of thick impasto and abstracted figures. The installation functions as a proscenium space in which the display of vessels and their painterly narratives unravel a feminist critique around the control and exchange of women’s bodies as a chattel.
The works were produced at Artspace, Sydney during her one year studio residency.
Crown, Legs, Arms, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2016; Making Do, Sydney Contemporary, 2015; Piece of Wood, Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney, 2015; Peace is guilty, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2014
Shut Up and Paint: NGV Collection, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2016; Painting, More Painting, ACCA, Melbourne, 2016 and Borders, barriers, walls, Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), Melbourne, 2016.Artist’s profile