2 September to 2 October 2011, Upper Gallery
The gallery is pleased to present its third exhibition with German painter Thoralf Knobloch. Knobloch creates complexly serene paintings, defined by their visual immediacy and seductively painted surfaces.
The origins of the artist’s practice are photographic. Manipulating images culled from his archive of photographs – consisting of scenes documenting his own milieu - Knobloch selects his anonymous and deeply prosaic subjects. These subjects range from run-down huts to snow covered roofs, telegraph poles, road signs and broken arcade machines. Importantly, the photograph remains no more than a tool of documentation to the artist; it is Knobloch himself who creates his image.
Despite an affection for the most mundane non-events, Knobloch affords his subjects a glorious timelessness. He adorns his canvases with a luminosity that insists the paintings glow with an ethereal light. The artist’s use of colour and tone quite acutely calibrates the mood and feeling of these canvases. Often the slightest nuance within the painted surface of a work can evoke sentiment, like the dull pale yellow of an anonymous back-street that serves to merely emphasise further the solitude of these environs.
There is a distinctly filmic quality to many of these canvases. With their perspectival complexity and dramatic shifts in focus, the images posses a sharp animated energy. Knobloch’s paintings can subsequently feel like frozen moments, not unlike a film still, transforming the canvas into a painterly Mise-en-scène. With the visual process halted, one is left to ponder the event or action that has seemingly just occurred before our arrival at these curiously isolated scenes.
Knobloch’s idiosyncratic brand of Realism, provides us with an exterior view of places at once familiar, yet equally alien. The recurrent motifs of these paintings – shopping bags, children’s toys and anonymous urban spaces – are part of a visual lexicon that is seamlessly everyday and engenders a feeling of déjà vu. Yet still they feel achingly desolate and inspire an atmosphere of detachment and loneliness, not dissimilar to the late night bar scenes of Edward Hopper. There is a very certain nostalgic sentimentality to these works that remove them from any form of cool or austere aestheticism associated with a Post-Modern painterly tradition. A sense of homeland prevails, whether carved from experiences of Brandenburg, the Spreewald, the Schwielochsee or the artist’s Dresden years. These notions of homeland are used to create an intimate setting, which acts as a microcosm for the world but is dually personal.
Knobloch’s densely structured images, devoid of temporal or strict narrative sequence yet populated with recurrent motifs of the quotidian, offer a fantasy of reality. The very tedium of this monotonous reality, are prevailing themes of the artist’s work. Knobloch’s stage for this drama – the uneventful spaces of somewhere and nowhere – are quite deliberately devoid of narrative, they merely articulate the surface of the image and instead create a unique space for contemplation.