Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Venice and brightly coloured blocks

Karla Black

I've just returned from my second Venice Biennale (my last visit was in 2003). It was a really sunny weekend and the city was heaving with tourists. The art bits were however pretty quiet which was a welcome relief from the cruise ship travelling / gondela riding masses.

My favourite thing by far was Karla Black's exhibition for the off-site Scottish pavilion. I love seeing contemporary work in ancient buildings and Venice's palazzos make brilliant gallerys. As you go up the stairs directed by hand painted Karla Black posters you are hit by a wall of smell - soapy perfume and sugary talc. The first room has Black's trade mark polythene sheets covered in various candy coloured powders. Subsequent rooms have large translucent blocks of soap cut into chunky shapes and standing on thin layers of compost and wafer thin paintings strung from fishing line.

William Eggleston
The chunky soap against its dark compost background reminds me of a William Eggleston photograph of brightly coloured plastic animals on a dark table. This is relevant because I saw the Eggleston image in a book of animal photography which I was looking at as research for the forthcoming Zoo show at Meter Room in Coventry.