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Silke Otto-Knapp at Camden Arts Centre

Exhibition preview

FROM January 17 to March 30, 2014, Camden Arts Centre is presenting an exhibition of new work by German artist Silke Otto-Knapp (b.1970), who is best known for her large scale canvases depicting scenes inspired by stage performance and landscape.

Otto-Knapp tackles the tradition of romantic landscape painting through the constraints of stage design, to question issues of decorative surface, spatial depth and pictorial construction.

Rendered almost entirely in black and silver pigments creating a stage-lit effect, the monochrome compositions of this new body of work address the visual contrivances in performance and landscape with a particular focus on lighting.

Taking inspiration from Anna Halprin’s stage built into the forest at her mountain home north of San Francisco, the subject is the moonlit Stage (North & South) 2012, and Stage (Moonlit) 2011. These compositions bring nature and artifice into direct communion as the trees themselves act as a frame for the space of the stage and issues of reality and artifice are confused.

The paintings depict their subject matter softly, with emphasis on tone and atmosphere. This delicate rendering of unapologetically romantic and fantastical scenarios (moon-lit forests, romantic landscapes or ballet performances) could be seen as a post-feminist proposition. Watercolour, which has been assigned a minority status in the art historical tradition, is here elevated to the grand scale of oil painting.

Alongside the paintings, the exhibition will include new collages, and etchings developed during a residency at The Banff Centre, Canada. The central motif of performance will be expanded in the supporting public programme, which is planned to include a major new performance in the gallery spaces by LA-based Flora Weigman.

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.

Silke Otto-Knapp will be on show in Galleries 1 and 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. She has exhibited widely internationally.

Otto-Knapp moved to London in 1995 but has not had a solo exhibition in a London institution since her 2005 Art Now presentation at Tate Modern. This new exhibition will present a new departure in her work since her show at Modern Art Oxford in 2009. She now lives and works between LA and London.

Camden Arts Centre is a venue for contemporary visual art and education, where ideas are made visible and people of all ages and abilities can engage in the creative process of making art.

Camden Arts Centre’s pioneering and varied programme of artist-led courses and other education activities has gained an international reputation as a model of good practice. It is known as a forward-thinking organisation where artists and others can see, make and talk about art.

Admission: Free.

Times: Tuesday to Sunday: 10am-6pm; Wednesdays late: 10am–9pm; closed Mondays.

Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London, NW3 6DG


Tel: +44 (0)20 7472 5500