Born 1972 in Alexandria, UK

Lives and works in Glasgow, UK


Karla Black creates her abstract, immersive sculptures by unconventionally combining materials such as paper, cellophane and paint with the likes of Vaseline, lipstick, sugar paper, cotton wool, earth, toothpaste or gold. Tactile, transparent materials are interspersed with natural and cosmetic substances, smudged and blurred by hand, or lightly sprinkled. Expanding the parameters of sculpture, Black creates ephemeral worlds, affective layered landscapes, at once monumental but also weightless. These room-filling works (often installed by Black herself) are spread across the floor or suspended from the ceiling to create entire environments. Despite their site-specificity, they are considered by her to be self-contained sculptures.


Material experiences is Black’s preferred way to understand the world and communicate within it. For her, materiality is closely tied to psychological states of being and her unique practice is an exploration of materiality and texture, and the emotions they transmit. Her interplay of delicate abstract forms, pastel colours and surprising materials demands a physical experience and encourages a new way of not only seeing but also perceiving.


Black has recently been the subject of a mid-career retrospective at Des Moines Art Centre (2020). Her numerous other solo shows include The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (upcoming 2020); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2019); Le Festival d’Automne, Paris (2017); Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle (2017); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2016); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2016); Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (2013);  Dallas Museum of Art (2012); Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2012) among others. Her group shows include Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2020); Lenbachhaus, Munich (2017); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2014); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2012); Carré d’Art-Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes (2011); Bundeskunsthalle Bonn (2010); Tate Britain, London (2009) and many more. Black represented Scotland at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017) and her work was shown at Manifesta 10 in St. Petersburg (2014). Her work is in major public collections such as the Tate, London; Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; KiCo Collection, Munich and others.