Karen Black (b. 1961, Australia) is a Sydney-based artist whose work occupies the scope of human relations through physical and psychological encounters. Her practice engages with the tensions and contradictions of desire, emotion and the self. Working across painting, drawing, ceramics and sculpture, she transforms traditional representations of the body and portraiture through abstraction. Often ambiguous, Black’s work contains an intimacy and vulnerability that comes from her interest in radical care and gentleness.
Her work has been exhibited in major Australian institutions including: the Art Gallery of NSW (Sydney), Newcastle Art Gallery (Newcastle), Gertrude Contemporary (Melbourne), Shepparton Art Museum (Shepparton), National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), Campbelltown Arts Centre (Sydney), Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (Melbourne), Griffith University Art Museum (Brisbane), Monash University Museum of Art (Melbourne), as well as presented internationally in Tokyo, Taipei, Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong. In 2017, she was a recipient of the Artspace One Year Studio Program and the 2019 Glasshouse/Stonehouse Residency, Chenaud, France. In 2022 she worked with Flack Studio and Ace Hotels worldwide to bring together Play-Clay, a community laneway project during Sydney Design Week and in 2023 collaborated with her daughter Ruby Black for Flack Studio and Melbourne Design Week in conjunction with the National Gallery of Victoria, bringing together over 400 people in three days for a drawing project, We need to hang out more. Black has been a finalist in various art awards including the prestigious Archibald and Sir John Sulman Prizes held at the Art Gallery of NSW. In 2023 she was included in Once more with feeling at Ngununggula, Southern Highlands, NSW curated by Megan Monte and Thin Skin, a new exhibition at Monash University Museum of Art in July 2023 curated by Jennifer Higgie.
Black’s work is included in numerous public collections including: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Australian War Memorial, Canberra; Shepparton Art Museum, Shepparton; Museum of Brisbane, Brisbane; Griffith University Art Museum; Brisbane; Queensland University of Technology Art Museum, Brisbane; Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne; Artbank and the Salsali Private Museum, Dubai.