SMAC Gallery presents two solo exhibitions by Marlene Steyn and Alexandra Karakashian.
MARLENE STEYN : Your Skin Is Not The Best Hiding Place
Marlene Steyn was born in 1989 in Cape Town, South Africa, where she currently lives and works. She obtained her Master of Fine Arts in 2014 from the Royal College of Art in London, specialising in painting. Prior to this, she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, in 2011. Marlene Steyn’s immersive paintings and sculptural installations draw on a multitude of sources, including psychoanalytic theory, historical narratives of painting and contemporary culture. Steyn interprets her subject matter through a deeply personal lens, creating meaning by subverting these elements to construct a new, introspective mythology.
Since 2014, Marlene Steyn has presented three critically acclaimed solo exhibitions: How Cannibals Cuddle at Art Cabin in London, UK, in 2014; Mad Love at Lychee One in London, UK and The End is Located Underneath Her Third Armpit (if the muscle is flexed) in Cape Town, South Africa, both in 2015.
Notable group exhibitions include: Dreamtime: New Surrealism in 2013 at Mirus Gallery in San Francisco, USA and Bloomberg New Contemporaries, first presented at Spike Island in Bristol in 2013 and again in 2014 at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, UK. Also in 2014, Steyn’s work was selected for the Saatchi New Sensations 2014 exhibition at Victoria House in Bloomsbury, London, UK; Inoperative Mythology at Blyth Gallery, Imperial College in London, UK and The Luminous Language at The Assembly Rooms in London, UK. In 2015, Steyn completed a residency at Atelier 35 in Bucharest, where she presented work in the collaborative exhibition, His Sprinkled Blood Served To Fructify Three Golden Apples. That same year, Steyn received the prestigious Vermont Studio Fellowship and her work was included in La Piscine at Espace Croix-Baragnon in Toulouse, France. Recent group exhibitions include All s-he ever wanted to be at Galleria M in Kolkata, India and LUSH at SMAC Gallery in Stellenbosch, South Africa both in 2015. In 2016, she exhibited in Faces & Other Scenarios, a two-person show at Galerie d’Ys in Brussels, Belgium; Inside Out at Castlefield Gallery in Manchester, UK and Across the Divide at Rosenfeld Porcini, London, UK.
ALEXANDRA KARAKASHIAN : Ground
Alexandra Karakashian was born in 1988 in Johannesburg, South Africa. She obtained her Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, in 2015. Notable awards include both the Judy Steinburg Painting Prize and the Simon Gerson Distinction Award in 2012 and the Jules Kramer Music & Fine Arts Scholarship and MacIver Scholarship in 2013. That same year, Karakashian was named as one of ten ‘Young African Artists of the Year’ by Business Day Wanted Magazine, and in 2014 she was invited to the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens for the Talent’s Archive Project.
Alexandra Karakashian’s practice is rooted in her exploration of both global and local interpretations of concepts such as land, environment and belonging. In addition, through her use of materials that are considered contentious within the fragile human-environment relationship, Karakashian revisits the tradition of landscape painting as a response to ecological crises and contemporary understandings of materiality.
In 2015, Karakashian presented a solo exhibition; Shifting Grounds at the Michaelis Galleries in Cape Town, and was a collaborator in the performance titled Land, for Infecting the City, Public Arts Programme, in Cape Town. Since graduating, Karakashian has exhibited in numerous group shows, most notably; In the Night I Remember at Stevenson in Johannesburg in 2013; Imago Mundi: The Art of Humanity in both Rome and Treviso, Italy in 2014; Sasol New Signatures Finalists 2014 in Pretoria, and Only Parts, at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg also in 2014. Karakashian formed part of MAP OF THE NEW ART at Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, Italy; BACK TO THE FUTURE II. Abstract Art in South Africa: Past & Present and LUSH both at SMAC Gallery in Stellenbosch; Claim of the Land at the Association for Visual Arts in Cape Town and Defining the Narrative at Gallery MOMO in Cape Town, all in 2015. 2016 exhibitions include The Art of Humanity at The Pratt Institute in New York, USA and, most recently Nothing Personal at SMAC Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Alexandra Karakashian lives and works between Cape Town and Johannesburg. GROUND is her first solo exhibition with SMAC Gallery. Later this year, Karakashian will present Passage, a special project selected for 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London.