Alexandra Karakashian

Alexandra Karakashian (b. 1988, Johannesburg, South Africa) ​lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. 


Alexandra Karakashian’s practice is entrenched in her personal and family history. Her engagement with her heritage, nationality, race and culture facilitates her artistic process, which focuses on broader current issues. Reflecting on themes of exile, mourning, migration, refugee status, demographic and geographical divisions – ideas that are at the central to 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.

The use of the black and white binary against a neutral backdrop reference South Africa’s complex sociopolitical history and her own understanding of on-going racial discrimination in South Africa and around the world. The artist utilizes used engine oil and salt to evoke ecological crises altering our world today. These materials aid in the artist’s exposing of the rampant, unethical seizure of natural resources, with the African continent at the forefront. Sump oil, with all its negative connotations and effects on the environment, is considered to be one of the most influential and destructive resources on the planet.


In 2011 she obtained her Bachelor of Fine Art Degree from the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. Upon graduating she was awarded both the Judy Steinberg Painting Prize and the Simon Gerson Distinction Award. She went on to graduate with a Masters in Fine Art Degree from the same institution in 2015.


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.