Karla Black creates abstract sculptures using a combination of everyday materials including powder, soap, gels, and pastes, along with more traditional media such as plaster, chalk, paint, and paper. Carefully arranged on the floor or suspended from the ceiling, they are typically made on site and include direct evidence of the process of their creation through fingerprints and dust. Delicate, messy, sensuous, and visceral, they testify to a physical experience of the world that lies beyond metaphorical and symbolic references. Poised between form and anti-form, they emerge like transitional states or naturally occurring sediments.
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 2016, a solo show, featuring new and recent work by the artist, was presented at David Zwirner, New York.
Currently on view at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh is a two-person exhibition, featuring works by Black and Kishio Suga (through February 19, 2017).
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 in 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, Germany; Modern Art Oxford, England; and the Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (all 2009). 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.
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.