Alexandra Karakashian

Birth placeJohannesburg, South Africa Birth date1988

Alexandra Karakashian, born in 1988 in Johannesburg, is an artist based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her work stems from her personal and family history and reflects on current issues of exile, migration and refugee-statues. Process and materiality is key to her practice. Employing used engine oil and salt as a medium for painting, she engages in ecological discussion, the threatening instability and subtle collapse; and the unethical seizing of rapidly dwindling natural resources, particularly on the resource-rich African continent. Furthermore she investigates notions of mourning, and the lamentation of the loss of land and of those who have been ‘unhomed’.

In 2018, Karakashian participated in Ravelled Threads, a group exhibition at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York City, USA; and presented her work as part of SMAC Gallery’s booth at the Joburg Art Fair in Johannesburg, South Africa. Karakashian’s solo exhibition, entitled here they passed, was up on exhibition at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town towards the end of 2018; and her solo show, In on itself, at the Marianne Ibrahim Gallery in Seattle, USA, concluded in December 2018. Most recently, Karakashian’s work was included in SMAC Gallery’s group presentation at the 2019 Investec Cape Town Art Fair; and is a part of the group exhibition, Material Insanities, at MACAAL in Marrakech, Morocco. Karakashian will also be included in SMAC Gallery’s presentation at the 13th edition of Art Dubai, in Dubai, UAE. Karakashian’s work is also up on exhibition as part of the group show, Filling in the Gaps, at the Iziko South African National Gallery. Karakshian is currently working towards a solo exhibition, undone, at Sabrina Amrani Gallery in Madrid, Spain; as well as two group presentations with Sabrina Amrani Gallery – one at ARCOlisboa in Portugal; and the other at ARCOmadrid in Spain.

In 2017, Karakashian presented her solo exhibition, entitled unbecoming, at SMAC Gallery in Johannesburg to coincide with the release of her self-titled publication, with text by Khanya Mashabela. Karakashian was the artist in residence at Capo d’Arte in Gagliano del Capo, Italy in 2016. The residency culminated in a solo presentation, self-titled Alexandra Karakashian, at the Villa Medici in Gagliano del Capo. Additional solo presentations in 2016 include: Passage, a special project at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, UK; and GROUND at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2015 Karakashian presented Shifting Grounds in Cape Town, South Africa; and collaborated with performance artist Buhlebeswe Siwani in Land, a performance piece selected for Infecting the City Public Arts Programme.

Karakashian is represented in numerous private and public collections including: the Iziko South African National Gallery, South Africa; the Spier Collection, South Africa; the Darvesh Collection, UAE ; The Royal Portfolio collection, South Africa; and the Luciano Benetton Collection, Italy.

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