Flowerpots, Tulips or Carpets

Imi Knoebel Düsseldorf-Milano XII 2002

“Everything is a painting for me. Each thing may already be the painting. You encounter that potential everywhere. You can pull a painting out of every situation. Those are the paintings you don’t have to paint, unless you’re a realist.” He doesn’t distinguish between object and painting, and pointing out the window to things put out on the balconies of the building over-looking his backyard, he says: “Flowerpots, tulips or carpets: each thing finds its place there without anyone paying that much attention. What is stuck out there seems always to be well chosen. Everything seems to be just right: things that have been used, things you’re attached to, which you can’t get rid of, things with a history, broken things. It’s everything people don’t want to put into their apartments. They can’t risk that in the front of the building. There it’s clean. Here, behind the building, the way they go about things is more carefree or less constrained. For instance, somebody paints a wall here only as far as his arm can reach and then just stops. That’s real space. To work out a whole balcony painting where each thing gets conquered is not what I’m after right now.” [Imi Knoebel on painting]

Imi Knoebel Red Yellow Blue White Installation

“… Knoebel was influenced by Kazimir Malevitch’s theory of the Black Square and its postulate of the autonomous painting without reference to reality – whether subjectively felt or objectively given – and without the data of sense perception. Knoebel argued that the “world of non-figurative art” should first be newly “charted,” just like the model of Malevitch’s “Black Rectangle on White” suggested. Yet Knoebel changed Malevitch’s conceptual postulates by actually taking elements of his surroundings as a starting point of his art. Knoebel was interested in how minimal changes of objects that were initially devoid of sense could develop the power to generate pictures. This happened primarily through the variation of materials and their positioning in space. At first, Knoebel drew on geometrical patterns, on squares, and cross shapes (Schwarzes Doppelkreuz (Black DoubleCross), 1968/85). Soon, he also organized the plywood boards which he painted in various colors into irregular and asymmetrical wall arrangements (Kadmiumrot O (Cadmium Red O), 1975/84). With his Mennigebilder (Red Lead Pictures), Knoebel again concentrated on the color red. He did wall pictures in specifically mixed color gradations of an anticorrosion paint of the same name. Polygonal and trapezoid silhouettes are dominant and evoke associations of single, superimposed, geometrical shapes (Mennigebilder, 1976/92). [VMOM on Imi Knoebel]

Imi Knoebel Ich Nicht VI, 2006

“The Dusseldorf-based artist represents a reduced form of conceptual painting; his inimitable style has inspired younger generations of artists… The first part focuses on the current wall and spatial works. Titled ICH NICHT, in English NOT I, the show offers an answer to Barnett Newman’s question “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Blue?” In the paintings of his 2006 series Ich nicht, Knoebel responds to these primary colors -red, yellow, and blue – whose mixture gives rise to all other colors. The interplay of monochromatic surfaces results in a variety of different color combinations. The traces left behind by paintbrushes, the various different ways the paint is applied, and the combination of matte and shiny areas lends a certain tension to the paintings. Ort – Blau Rot Rot Gelb (2009), in English Location-Blue Red Red Yellow, is one of the key installations in the Berlin exhibition hall and carries this work into the third dimension. Three-meter-high aluminum panels, each painted in one of the three primary colors, join together in this installation to form an open space that veritably immerses the viewer in color. This work represents another investigation into color field painting and Newman’s famous painting series made between 1966 and 1970. At the same time, the installation invites the viewer to simply look and to experience the sensuous effects of the color space in a direct and immediate way.” [Deutsche Bank Art Magazine on Imi Knoebel]

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