Venice Diaries Part 12 – Karla Black

by Chantal

I realised the other day that I never quite finished the Venice Diaries report from my trip to the 54th Venice Biennale. As I still have a couple of film clips to share (one of them being the magnificent offering from Georgia that I loved) I thought its time I finished off.

Scottish Pavilion – Karla Black

Karla Black's installation for the Scottish Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale

Karla Black’s work is something between painting and sculpture. Swathes of suspended colour and material are constructed within the spaces she uses in a way that have more in common with the markings of a paintbrush. I think part of the appeal of her works lies in the contrast between their fragility and the monumentality they often possess.

The materials used by Black in this exhibition include vaseline and marble dust, sugar paper and eye-shadow, soil, powder paint and plaster, polythene, cellophane and soap. Her choices in materials are not to be taken as references or allegories – she insists she chooses purely on an aesthetic basis, experimenting and playing with in the way children handle their material world.

Seeing images of Black’s work before the Biennale I had been very excited about seeing them in the flesh but I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I actually found them more magical as images – they didn’t have the presence I expected when I shared a room with them. In part I think my visual response may have been hampered by the overwhelmingly sweet smell of LUSH soap materials used. Mixed with the incredible heat of that afternoon it was a dizzying and sickly combo that made the pavilion feel very claustrophobic. I love the idea of an artwork combining smell with texture and colour – touching more of the senses – but on this occasion the balance didn’t work for me. However, as well as having the honour of representing Scotland at the Venice Biennale, Black was also nominated for this years Turner Prize – so what do I know!

Here is a video walkthrough I took of the exhibition:

Karla Black’s exhibition took place at the Palazzo Pisani, Cannaregio. 4t June – 27th November.

For my other  Venice Diaries entries see:

Part 1- Personal Structures & Eternal Love

Part  2 – The Swiss Pavilion

Part 3 – Britain, Japan & France at the Giardini

Part 4- Greek & Austrian Pavilions,

Part 5 – Palazzo Fortuny

Part  6- A Moment On A Jetty

Part 7- Portugal Pavilion

Part  8- Luxembourg Pavilion

Part 9 – Travelling Alone and eating Ice Cream

Part 10 – The Arsenale

Part 11- Federico Diaz “Outside Itself”