Thursday, 23 February 2012

Karla Black at Stuart Shave/Modern Art

Karla Black's extraordinary rise to art stardom over the past years has seen the Glasgow MA rife with impersonators, her first solo show for Stuart Shave shows the unique beauty of her work on a more intimate scale.

The first room contains a curious window display, halfway between an experimental visual merchandiser on acid and the detritus from a child's birthday party, complete with polystyrene cake with lurid pink icing, pastel streamers and decimated party bags. The leftovers of an 80s tween sleepover, powder pinks and blues, sticky with eyeshadow, a busy feminine mess.

The back room in contrast contains a large bold chain link structure rendered in the most fragile of materials, a huge aggressive symbol of restraint rendered ethereal. Powder paint pigment, again in a delicate pastel tone dusted over the work and sprinkled onto the floor, already being carried away on the soles of people's shoes only minutes after the gallery opened. Everything about the work softly screams impermanence, any minute I expect the sellotape to unstick, the cellophane to drop and the sculptures to return to their separate original components.
Down the stairs is a delicate falling of rainbow of pastel sanitary/doggy-doo/nappy bags, its weightless bag-in-the-wind quality broken by large hooks holding it firmly in place, making me realise with all their fragility and laissez-faire appearance the sculptures are very deliberate and strong settled arrangements.
Downstairs is a beautiful installation, the large white gallery space, a perfect setting for the three boulders of primary colour plastic (of course- still pastel!). Although translucent and held together by sellotape again, they take on a solid and impressive weight.
This is a really absorbing show, and although messy and busy at points it still holds an overall serenity, as the impact of the sculptures becomes a perfect backdrop for contemplation on medium, form, femininity and ultimately sculpture itself.

Paul Kindersley

Karla Black
Modern Art
23/25 Eastcastle Street, London W1
23 February - 24 March 2012