06.07.17 – 29.07.17
SMAC Gallery is proud to present 'unbecoming' by Alexandra Karakashian – a new selection of work, using a combination of used engine oil and traditional oil paint medium.
Working on both linen and paper in varying sizes, chance plays a vital role in allowing Karakashian’s process to unfold. Springboarding from landscape painting and formal abstraction, Karakashian’s practice engages her signature subdued-palette and subtly blurred subject matter that hints at various ambiguous forms. The resulting aesthetic reflects an intriguing atmosphere, evocative of the ‘calm after the storm’ where the beauty of decay and subtlety is at the forefront of one’s visual experience.
Reflecting on current issues of exile, mourning, migration and refugee status – ideas that are at the forefront of discourse around the Euro-African relationship – Karakashian explores the metanarrative of various current and historical societies’ relationships to ‘landscape’, both in Southern Africa and further abroad.
Her practice confronts binaries of ‘black’ and ‘white’ against a backdrop of ‘neutral’ tones, referencing both South Africa’s complex history on these terms and her own understanding of ongoing racial discrimination in South Africa and abroad. Engagement with materials that are contentious in relation to human and environmental wellbeing serves to prompt a consideration of the shifting ways in which landscape can be perceived in the context of the contemporary social, political and ecological crises.
Alexandra Karakashian’s ability to draw on her family history and personal context of nationality, race and culture to facilitate her artistic process of enquiry and discussion around broader issues is unique to her personal identity. While maintaining a deep understanding of the human experience, she manages to perceive her locality within a continuously shifting (South) African viewpoint.