Karas, a corporate lawyer whose firm Lipman Karas has offices in Adelaide, Hong Kong and London, was appointed to the board of AGSA earlier this year.
He replaces chair Tracey Whiting, who has been in the role since August 2014.
The change of leadership comes at a critical time for AGSA which, like most arts institutions, faces a challenging future as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to constrain domestic and international tourism and damage the broader economy.
Karas is a familiar face at the gallery.
Through his law firm, Karas has been a prominent supporter of the institution, including sponsoring the national tour of Quilty and the Ramsay Art Prize People’s Choice Award. He has a particular interest in contemporary art and is a member of AGSA’s Contemporary Collectors group.
Whiting was involved in the formation of that philanthropic support group, which the gallery says has assisted in the acquisition of more than 500 works.
“AGSA holds one of Australia’s finest collections of traditional and contemporary art and consistently curates internationally renowned exhibitions,” Karas said.
“The gallery plays a vital role in the creative, social and economic life of our state and beyond. It reflects our collective past, present and future.”
He said he looked forward to working with the gallery community and leadership ” through the next phase of AGSA’s evolution as a progressive, diverse and inclusive public institution”.
“It is essential that we are ambitious and innovative in pursuing our purpose. This will benefit all members of our community and advance the status and prosperity of South Australia.”
Premier Steven Marshall, who also holds the arts portfolio, paid tribute to Whiting and welcomed Karas to the role.
‘Tracey’s outstanding contribution to South Australia’s cultural landscape has been immense, and her being awarded Member of the Order of Australia earlier this year is testament to her energy and passion for the arts,” he said.
“I would like to thank Tracey sincerely for her service to the board, and the state, and wish her all the best for her future endeavours.”
Whiting said it had been “an honour to steer one of South Australia’s most loved institutions, and a hugely rewarding experience to work with such a passionate and professional board and management team who are making such valuable contributions to art and culture in South Australia”.