Critics’ Picks

View of “Karla Black,” 2017.

View of “Karla Black,” 2017.

Milan

Karla Black

Galleria Raffaella Cortese | Via Stradella 7
Via Stradella 7
November 29, 2016–February 25, 2017

Galleria Raffaella Cortese | Via Stradella 7
Via Stradella 7
November 29, 2016–February 25, 2017

Conceived specifically for the spaces of the gallery, this show presents new works by Karla Black made primarily of cotton wool. Orchestrated as variations on a theme, these soft, sensual, and delicate abstract works first hide, then quietly reveal, a complexity of form and meaning. The artist establishes a long-distance dialogue of sorts with the tradition of abstract painting, investigating two-dimensionality but dismantling the canvas’s optical space in favor of physical, tactile work that ideally can be appreciated from more than one side. For example, In Place of Requirements (all works 2016), takes the form of a colorful quilt, evoking intimacy and the presence of the body. And the eight other, smaller “canvases,” which also hang from the ceiling, seem pillow-sized. On their sugar paper surfaces, Black creates chromatic and geometric modulations by manipulating cotton, as in Sourced and Unsourced, where her material appears to become denser in the center or at the corners. Using materials and colors traditionally marked as feminine, Black sometimes applies eye shadow in faint hues (pink, blue, yellow) instead of acrylic, as in the case of the balsa-wood piece State One. In the installation Admitting Amounts, cotton seems to form a lake over which a tangle of cellophane is suspended, expanding throughout the exhibition space. Black once again has created experimental, compositionally adventurous works, marked by an elegance that is never an end unto itself; light as clouds, they invite visitors to enter a magical and astounding realm.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.