Black’s work explores loaded social and individual female driven narratives, traversing the complex interchange between the personal and the political.
Drawing on her background as a costume maker in the opera and theatre, as well as her own personal history, this new series of works comprises of a series of abstract portraits. All situated in the bedroom or looking out from a bedroom window into the garden (Black has recently left behind her precious garden), the works raise questions about the value, objectification and exclusion of women. Each painting spills in and out of its frame – made specifically for the individual work – making a psychological space for a personal narrative that may also be universal.
Naomi Riddle’s essay investigating It’s Not Real says, “You can think of Karen Black’s collection of paintings as a series of windows. We must look through an abstract frame to discover a figurative scene. And, the longer we look, we find other windows inside of these scenes.”
“It’s Not Real reclaims the bedroom from her own position of autonomy. She is allowing us into this private space: what we are privy to, and what we are kept separate from, remains within her control,” said Riddle.
Black has been the recipient of several awards including the Glasshouse Stonehouse Residency in France in 2019, which included the exhibition The Cook and her Driver at Gertrude Glasshouse in Melbourne in 2020. Her work is included in numerous public collections including The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; The Australian War Memorial, Canberra; Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne; the Griffith University Art Gallery, Brisbane; Queensland University of Technology Art Museum, Brisbane; Artbank, Sydney; the Macquarie Group Collection; and the Salsali Private Museum, Dubai.