Comprised of 22 new artworks, Imi Knoebel’s current exhibition at Thaddaeus Ropac’s Paris Marais exhibition space offers a new direction for the German painter, whose decades of practice in the intersection of color field painting, shaped canvases and minimalist serialism offer a new point of departure for a series of loosely rendered, yet exceptionally vital new works, pushing his honed stylistic practice towards new experiments within the art historical lexicon.
Knoebel’s works here are impressive executions, utilizing simple forms and sparse color through a series of themes and variants to create a distinctively cohesive exhibition. Yet equally notable is the artist’s exercises both with and against his minimalist pedigree, the pieces on view at Ropac are capable of a notable range of perception, seemingly based almost solely on the work’s undulating edges and curves. Inspired by the collision of two smaller asteroids in 2014, which resulted in a strangely shaped planet, shaped like a peanut, and comprised of two entirely different base elements.
The works here turn Knoebel’s stripped-bare aesthetic towards this cataclysmic phenomenon. Rather than the exacting precision of the artist’s earlier work, these pieces seem to press themselves towards a more expressive, winding line of thought, lent an additional degree of impact by the occasionally straight edge or cleanly cut geometric form. Pieces snake along the wall in gentle arcs that seem trace the artist’s hand through space, rather than execute a more stark, architecturally-invested action.
Knoebel’s meandering lines are complemented by a careful application of paint, changing from soft glosses to flat coats, each time marking points of transition from one element of the next, or emphasizing the work’s own formal logic. Bild 16.02.2016, for instance, sees the looping curve that makes up one half of its form painted in a glowing tint that shifts in the light as the viewer moves past, creating a delicate sense of movement that works quite well alongside its hints of kinetic energy. Considering this point, the work’s return to more blocky elements at either end of the work’s arc makes the piece all the more compelling, a sort of rough-edged sculptural hybrid that offers a satisfying contrast of color and shape simultaneously.
It is these borders, these points of transition (or perhaps more appropriately here, collision) between any two elements in Knoebel’s work, that keeps the viewer returning to the same pieces over and again, embracing the gradual discovery of an internal logic that appears out of a distinct selection of material and a studied tracing of the artist’s hand, leaving only a polished movement across the gallery wall.
Liaison Astéroïde is on view through July 2nd.
— D. Creahan
Imi Knoebel at Thaddaeus Ropac [Exhibition Site]