IMI KNOEBEL

Selected Works
Dec 11 – Feb 19 2011
von Bartha, Basel

SELECTED WORKS Installation view, 2011 von Bartha, Basel
SELECTED WORKS Installation view, 2011 von Bartha, Basel
SELECTED WORKS Installation view, 2011 von Bartha, Basel
SELECTED WORKS Installation view, 2011 von Bartha, Basel
Lina – Liza Strasse 4, 2000 Acrylic on aluminium 276 x 200 x 4.5 cm

From the begin­ning, Imi Knoe­bel con­sis­tently applied a rad­i­cal reduc­tion of form. This reduc­tion can already be seen in his lin­ear images which mark the begin­ning of his artis­tic career and were dis­played for the first time at the Düs­sel­dorf Acad­emy in 1967/68. They were fol­lowed by the colour field images, which have formed the core of his work up to this day. “Imi Knoebel – Selected Works” held at the von Bartha Garage is a ret­ro­spec­tive and high­lights the impres­sive con– sis­tency with which Knoebel has been work­ing since the late 1960s on the same ele­men­tary ques­tions – from his ear­li­est lin­ear images until today. “In his lin­ear images, Imi Knoebel describes him­self as look­ing for the begin­ning, which has noth­ing of the cer­tainty of a pure rectangle’s right angles. Knoebel took the most obvi­ous shape, the square, with which he invoked his first impres­sion of art, the Black Square by Kasimir Malewitsch.”* A lot was already present in his lin­ear images which has dis­tin­guished Knoebel’s work until today. Ulti­mately, black and white delin­eate noth­ing but outer bound­aries of the colour palette. Between these two poles of black and white, there are many colour gra­da­tions. Observ­ing some of his newer works (such as “OOMMM”, 2002 or “MOLANI”, 2010) it becomes clear that all the ele­ments already existed from the begin­ning – the geo­met­ric struc­ture, the grid, the sim­ple super­po­si­tion of plane (base) and line (struc­ture). How­ever, this obser­va­tion does not mean that Knoebel’s oeu­vre does not know vari­a­tion. In his ply­wood images (“OTTERLO IV”, 1985) Knoebel’s affin­ity for sen­si­tive aes­thet­ics for mate­ri­als and for spa­tial sculp­tural objects becomes clear. The recur­ring con­fronta­tion with the (exhibition-) space is one aspect, with which Knoebel dared to go beyond the sur­face plane of the painting. Today a young gen­er­a­tion of artists are once again increas­ingly devot­ing them­selves to the intel­lec­tual and aes­thetic sub­si­dence of Moder­nity. Given this cur­rent recon­sid­er­a­tion, Knoebel’s approach is even more impres­sive because he has been ques­tion­ing shape and colour for over four decades. Supre­ma­tism, Min­i­mal Art, De Stijl, Bar­nett New­man and Alexey von Jawlen­sky… All of these styles and oth­ers and their pro­tag­o­nists can be suc­cess­fully found In Knoebel’s works. How­ever, Knoebel does not copy; he quotes and plays with the quo­ta­tions. He goes a step fur­ther than his role mod­els; he deals with them – some­times beyond recog­ni­tion. In this sense, he has always remained a seeker, who with all con­sis­tency accepted a few of the most press­ing and fun­da­men­tal ques­tions of paint­ing and the visual arts in gen­eral. Not pri­mar­ily to pro­vide answers but to raise new questions. Text: Reto Thüring