Karla Black and Kishio Suga A New Order National Galleries of Scotland Modern ONE review Thursday 20th October 2016


Karla Black and Kishio Suga: A New order at Modern One brings together for the first time two artists who, although from completely different backgrounds, have achieved international recognition for both their use of material and space in their works.  Karla Black and Kishio Suga despite both working at an internationally recognised level for many years individually and both exploring at times our use and interaction with spaces have only become aware of one another’s work for this combined exhibition.  Interesting to see here how Karla’s Scottish roots and Kishio’s Japanese roots explore many of the same questions, but with a different use of materials and space.

Glasgow-based Black (born 1972) is best known for her use of ephemeral materials in her work and the most striking of these on display is “Too Much About Home” – a full room sized work of cotton wool and vertical cellophane strips hanging from the ceiling.  Entry to this space is restricted to standing at the doorway of the room and looking in...we can see the objects, but our access and entry into this space is denied, forcing us to be merely observers rather than participants.   Karla Black has a liking for building her works from the floor up, much as a child will play with objects and space, and you can imagine the playfulness that began this creation.

Kishio Suga also explores our interactions with materials and space, but his objects of choice are in stark contrast to the soft almost playful material that Karla Black uses.  Here, Kishio is using hard natural materials (stones) and industrially worked metals and woods as his source materials.  Our access to the rooms that these works are in varies from complete movement around and interaction with the works, partial access to the space itself, and only observance of the work from the gallery doorway. 

Probably the work here inviting most questions from me is “Edges of a Gathered Realm”.  Here stones of different sizes, shapes and textures (some natural, some industrial) are placed on a large zinc base.  It’s not actually the stones that interest me here, but the thought process  behind what makes one object fit that space in relation to another.  Stone is one of our most ancient materials, and I wonder just how close to Kashio’s thoughts here in arranging these stones our ancient ancestors may have been in the far distant past.  What sort of choices was ancient man maybe making and how close to those thoughts are we now.

This is an exhibition that will challenge people’s concept of what art and space are, and there are no answers here.  Some people may see nothing while others see something of great insight.

Review by Tom King

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