About the Exhibition
Manuela Karin Knaut’s painterly work reflects the enthusiasm of the artist for travel, the discovery of new terrain, and the inevitable leaving of her own comfort zone. It is the brokenness, the charmingly imperfect, the frequently temporary-seeming that fascinates Knaut, and which she imbues into her pictorial language and the primary idea of her location-specific and large format installations.
The artist expresses this restlessness, this almost childish, unprepossessing curiosity and adventurousness in her works. Her paintings are balancing acts of colour, form, and line, surface and space, abstraction and figurativeness, image, and text. Individual areas of colour are put down with strong paint marks and then worked over and over. A variety of more or less defined objects keep being woven into Knaut’s painterly process. Here, everyday objects straight from life are contoured with line, or painted over, or revealed again.
The artist combines a great variety of materials in her paintings, true to the work style inspired by elements of street art scenes. She glues paper waste, images, photos, fabric pieces, or bits of text onto her paintings. She ties, rips, glues, sews or nails found objects onto or into her image worlds. She adds, reduces, scrapes, rips, rubs. As such, life is frequently chaotic in Knaut’s generous studio and integrated print workshop.
The artist works in four rooms on a variety of works concurrently, some hang on the walls, some wait in the drying rack for the next phase of work, while others lean up somewhere or just lie on the floor. Here- a layer of concrete is drying, there- preparations for screen printing take form. In another place, a base coat, a varnish, glue or spray is applied. Still, in all the chaos there is never any doubt about the moment when a painting is ‘finished’- when the story of that painting has been told. In the same clear and seemingly spontaneous way in which the first layers of paint have found their way onto the canvas, she is just as definitive about the point at which the work is finished. Sometimes it is after 15 minutes, sometimes after days or even weeks.
The works are then hung on a plain white presentation wall, checked again and again, and finally signed. At this moment a strange peace captures the usually pulsating studio space. Time, peace and space for observers, for their own stories, and an invitation to let thoughts wander and find one’s own place exist in the colourful world of Manuela Karin Knaut.
"I am a searcher of things, a playful collector. Unfortunately quite disorderly, I am constantly searching, in the middle of the action – I can always be found where things are happening, preferably in the place furthest removed from my comfort zone. Always travelling. If not in person then in thoughts and with my eyes. Constantly curious, sometimes brave, generally careful and always willing to look below the surface. Stopping when others keep walking. Questioning, touching, feeling, looking, smelling, capturing situations. Hesitating, gawping, marvelling.
I am interested in people and their stories: the security guard, the fruit seller, the photographer I recently met. The old neighbour who now lives in an old people’s home. The woman I met on the plane recently travelling to Accra on her own, the Israeli painter on her way to New York. The grandfather holding his grandson’s hand, that group of seemingly boisterous of youths, the small girl with a sad look at the street corner. I collect their stories. The newspaper seller at the traffic lights, I speak to him every day. What moves you? What makes you happy? What is the meaning of home for you, for me, at this or the opposite end of the world? What unites us, what separates us? Is there such a thing as real, true happiness? What is the meaning of loss, and – close to real life – what if death suddenly becomes a subject of discussion? I collect. Every day I collect new stories, memories, I collect pictures – in my head, with my camera. In many boxes, on many seemingly chaotic piles of paper I sort, connect, join new stories and faces with that which life has already presented to me. I walk through this one life of mine with open eyes – knowing that no-one else can see it, love it, live it like me."
- Manuela Karin Knaut
Manuela Karin Knaut, born 1970, is an independent artist currently living in Braunschweig, Germany. She acquired a Master of Arts in Fine Art at the University of the Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Apart from her centrally located studio and print workshop in Braunschweig she also keeps a studio in Johannesburg.
She has been a member of the Bund Bildender Künstler (German Association of Visual Artists) and the Association Internationale des Arts Plastiques, as well as The Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA). Member of the International Womens Association, Photomuseum Braunschweig and GEDOK Niedersachsen.
Since 1990 various exhibitions nationally and internationally, amongst them in South Africa, Ghana, Switzerland, Danmark, UK, Austria, USA, Israel, Kirghistan. Her works are represented worldwide in public and private collections.
Location specific installations and sculptural interventions, painting, photography.