Dust Over Aleppo

Art Life , Exhibitions Oct 24, 2014 No Comments

From Andrew Frost

Few artists can take on the subject of war and successfully say anything that’s really convincing. Historical exceptions such as Goya and Picasso produced masterpieces that still resonate because their works were as much about representing the inhumanity of war in a literal sense as they were meditations on the universality of suffering. But where contemporary painting might still be able to achieve that kind of intensity of meaning and representation it must also contend with the fact that our impressions of modern war are mediated experiences at once sanitised for broadcast but also imbued with pernicious propaganda.


Karen Black‘s Dust Over Aleppo is a sequence of paintings that take on the subject of war in Syria. Paintings such as St Simoen’s Pillar and Death From The Sky mix Biblical allusion with the contemporary – figures and bodies huddle against the wind and press forward, children held closely, the kinds of images familiar from news media. Black’s paintings have a gauzy and sand swept quality, the figures disappearing into backgrounds, other figures emerging from what appears to be the background. Painted in oils on marble dust on board the paintings also achieve a kind of conceptual consistency with their subject. In Black’s work, that meeting of representation and symbol comes alive.

Until November 8
</aullivan & Strumpf, Zetland
Pic: Karen Black, Death Falls from the Sky (Detail), 2014. Oil on marble dust on board 48x57cm.

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Andrew Frost

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