When the Fruitmarket Gallery was decidedly going to close for renovation it was first thought that their doors would re-open in August 2020. However, with the global crisis of the past year, this date was pushed back and it it with great delight and glee that I can claim that their doors are now open for the general public again, having taken over the space that was once Electric Circus, and renovating the space, seemingly fresh and new. And with the new Karla Black exhibition there has been much jest that it’s blushing for everyone’s arrival, particularly if you traipse up the stairs to witness the pastel pink installation that overwhelms any visitor.

Scottish artist Karla Black makes sculptures that begin with a desire to do something. To experiment with certain materials, certain colours. In turn, the sculptures she makes do something: they hang, heap, spread, reach, spill, stand, hover. The materials Karla uses include many feminine products; cosmetics, over-the-counter medicines, cleaning products and packaging as well as the paint, paper and plaster more usually found in fine art. She uses them because she likes them, and wants to see what they can do. She keeps her materials as raw as possible, so that the energy they embody is in the present or the future rather than the past. 

Karla has been thinking with us about what she can do in the new Fruitmarket space for almost as long as their team of staff have been thinking about making changes to the building. She imagined an exhibition that combines a selection of sculptures made since 2001 with new works made in and for the Fruitmarket in the weeks before the exhibition’s opening. In the ground floor Gallery, standing, hanging and low-lying volumes and planes are constructed from cardboard, sugar paper, polystyrene, polythene, and cellophane, and worked on with Karla’s signature powders, pastes and gels, and not lets forget nail varnish. As mentioned previously, in the light and airy upper Gallery, Black’s work exists in plaster powder, powder paint and cosmetics. In the new Warehouse, an experiment in materials including earth, body butter and variegated gold leaf, which captures your imagination with the juxtaposition of the rooted and the magical.

With the intention to make us feel in the here and the now, Black’s effective in not casting us back nostalgically. Both the materials and the subject evoke this particularly present and perhaps futuristic feel to the exhibition. Speaking to the space, which still holds much of it’s previous minimalist style, Black has used the industrial and fruitmarket vibes that elicit from the Warehouse, a dark and wonderfully acoustic space that will be an ideal venue for cultural events when things to start to open up in a way that feels healthy for the Fruitmarket Gallery.

I urge you to visit this new space and exhibition which runs until 24th October 2021, which the Fruitmarket Gallery request you book. For information and the link for booking click here

Photo courtesy of Neil Hanna