In January Camden Arts Centre
presents an exhibition of new work by German artist Silke Otto-Knapp (b.1970). Monday or Tuesday opens at Camden Arts Centre on 17 January 2014 and admission is free.
Silke Otto-Knapps paintings feature two constant subjects - performance and landscape evoked in gouache and watercolour on canvas in a subtractive process that washes away layers to reveal forms beneath. The translucent space and the fugitive figures that emerge engage the active participation of the viewer whose movement brings aspects of the composition into their perception.
The visual constructs of performance and stage design act as a framework through which issues of nature and artifice are addressed. Rendered almost entirely in black and grey pigments these new paintings appear to be moonlit, yet the light source is hard to determine, ambiguously appearing as a lunar body, stage instruction or theatrical lighting device. Several of the paintings feature Anna Halprins outdoor deck a stage built into the forest at her mountain home north of San Francisco where many choreographers rehearsed and performed within the natural frame of the landscape as an alternative to the traditional framing of proscenium theatres.
Silke Otto-Knapps exhibition, Monday or Tuesday, takes its name from a short story by Virgina Woolf, published in 1921. This historical precursor is one of several motifs which hold the work in a framework that extends beyond the realm of painting, into literature, dance and cultural history. Often working from iconic images of 20th century dance performances, such as Bronislava Nijinskas Les Biches, Otto-Knapps paintings invite an understanding of the pictorial space as a site of staged imaginings. Three Seascapes (Eclipse and coastline; Third Movement; Trees and Moon) (2013) consists of 42 etchings which demonstrate the subtle shifts of tonality and colour that emerge within the parameters of three prevailing motifs: A Newfoundland Seascape; A scene from the third movement of Yvonne Rainers Three Seascapes, 1966; and the view from Edvard Munchs cabin in Aasgarstrand, Norway.
Silke Otto-Knapps exhibition is accompanied by a season of dance events in the winter public programme. In the first week of the exhibition, choreographer-dancer Flora Wiegmann will be in residence in the Artists Studio, developing a performance in the context of Monday or Tuesday. This will be performed on 24 January with costumes designed by Silke Otto-Knapp based on Yves Saint Laurent dresses from the 1960s. Also in the Artists Studio, dancer Nissa Nishikawa will run a two-day Masterclass (29-30 March), training the body to respond to the landscape. On 2 March, there will be a salon afternoon of performance screenings with a conversation between dancer Kate Coyne and Silke Otto-Knapp exploring some of the concerns informing cross-disciplinary collaborations.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a new publication with an essay by Sabeth Buchmann co-produced with Charlottenborg, Copenhagen where some of the works in the exhibition were shown in 2013. A File Note has been published with an essay by Rike Frank.
Silke Otto-Knapp will be on show in Galleries 1 & 2 at Camden Arts Centre. Also on show at the same time is an exhibition by Nina Cannell in Gallery 3.
Silke Otto-Knapp was born in Osnabrück, Germany in 1970. She trained at the University of Hildesheim and at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London. Otto-Knapp moved to London in 1995 and had a solo exhibition in Art Now, Tate Britain in 2005 and at Modern Art Oxford in 2009.
Her other solo exhibitions include: Geography and Plays, Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2013); Lilac Garden (Rehearsal), Sadlers Wells, London (2011); A light in the moon, UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA (2011); Many many women, Kunstverein Munich, Munich (2010). Group exhibitions include: le Nouveau Pleinairisme, Musee national des beaux-arts di Quebec (curated by Kitty Scott, 2012); and Dance/Draw, ICA Boston, MA (curated by Helen Molesworth, 2011). She now lives and works between London and L.A. where she has recently been appointed associate professor in Fine Art at UCLA.