Alexandra Karakashian



Born in Johannesburg in 1988 and currently based in Cape Town, Alexandra Karakashian is an artist no strange to displacements. Working mainly as a painter on various formats, from canvas to paper, and also having produced installations, her art resists a quick interpretation, constantly dealing with a ubiquitous and intense mediation on the color black. Descendent of immigrants from Armenia, Karakashian is sensible to the implications politics can sustain over a people, an aspect translated by the apparent silence her paintings perform. Upon a closer inspection, though, the small details can resume considerable gestures. In some of her canvases Karakashian uses engine oil; through it, she not only acquires a new texture of black, but also confers the fuel that grants mobility an aesthetic status.

Karakashian earned both her BFA and a MFA degree from the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. Her work is part of international private and public collections, including the Iziko South African National Gallery. She was also awarded both the Judy Steinberg Painting Prize and the Simon Gerson Distinction Award.

Iziko South African National Gallery (South Africa)
Spier Collection in South Africa, the Darvesh Collection (UAE)
The Royal Portfolio Collection (South Africa)
Capo d’Arte Collection (Italy)
Luciano Benetton Collection (Italy)
The University of Cape Town Art Collection (South Africa)
Knights Bridge International (USA)
Hans Porer Collection (South Africa)

Alexandra Karakashian on Instagram

Solo Exhibitions


unfolding pause, GNYP Gallery, Berlin (Germany)


A rhythm for falling, Sabrina Amrani, Madrid (Spain)


In on Itself, Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Seattle (USA)

here they passed, SMAC Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa)


unbecoming, SMAC Gallery, Johannesburg (South Africa)


Alexandra Karakashian, Villa Medici, Gagliano del Capo (Italy)

GROUND, SMAC Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa)


Shifting Grounds, Michaelis Galleries - University of Cape Town, Cape Town (South Africa)

Land, Infecting the City: Public Arts Festival, Cape Town (South Africa)


Passages, The Black Box, Cape Town (South Africa)

Group Exhibitions


Black Luminosity, SMAC Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa)


Materiality, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa)

Ver Versus Ver II, Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid (Spain)

Ver Versus Ver, Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid (Spain)


Material Insanity, Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Marrakech (Morocco)

Satellites, Satellites Project Space, Cape Town (South Africa)

Inner Landscapes, Galleria Anna Marra, Rome (Italy)

Filling in the Gaps, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa)


Wish You Were Here, SMAC Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa)

A Letter to My 22-year-old Self, BKhz Studio & Gallery, Johannesburg (South Africa)

Ravelled Threads, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York City (USA)

Back to the Future III – Abstract Art in South Africa: Past & Present, SMAC Gallery, Stellenbosch (South Africa)


X: Part II, SMAC Gallery, Stellenbosch (South Africa)

X: Part III, SMAC Gallery, Stellenbosch (South Africa)

A Painting Today, STEVENSON, Cape Town (South Africa)


Upstart/Startup, SMAC Gallery, Johannesburg (South Africa)

The Art of Humanity, Pratt Institute The Rubelle and Norman Schfler Gallery, New York (USA)

Recent Masters, Michaelis Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa)

Nothing Personal, SMAC Gallery, Stellenbosch (South Africa)

Pastoral Abstraction, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa)


Lush, SMAC Gallery, Stellenbosch (South Africa)

MAP OF THE NEW ART, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice (Italy)

Defining the Narrative, Gallery MOMO, Cape Town (South Africa)

Back to the Future II, SMAC Gallery, Stellenbosch (South Africa)

Empire, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa)

Claim of the Land, Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town (South Africa)


Imago Mundi: The Art of Humanity, Museo Carlo Bilotti, Rome (Italy)

Sasol New Signatures Finalists, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria (South Africa)

Imago Mundi: The Art of Humanity, Casa Dei Carraresi, Treviso (Italy)

Only Parts, Wits Substation, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (South Africa)

Paint Matters, Barnard Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa)

Paperwork: An Exhibition of Contemporary South African Works on Paper, SMAC Gallery, Stellenbosch (South Africa)


In the Night I Remember, Stevenson, Johannesburg (South Africa)

The Xmas Show, SMAC Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa)

Back to the Future, SMAC Gallery, Stellenbosch (South Africa)

Between the Lines, Michaelis Gallery, University of Cape Town, Cape Town (South Africa)

Small Canvas Project, Benneton Foundation, Venice (Italy)


Impression: Sunset, Salon91, Cape Town (South Africa)

Outside the Lines, WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town (South Africa)



Capo d’Arte, Gagliano del Capo (Italy)


The Talents’ Archive Project, Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens (Greece)


Invited and awarded student: Between the Lines Symposium and Exchange between the Michaelis School of Fine Art & the Braunschweig University of Art - Organised by Colin Richards & Candice Breitz, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town (South Africa) and Braunschweig University (Germany)