Vanishing Act

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If every photograph is an image of a lost moment, then every painting of a photograph is an image of a moment long gone. This goes some way to explaining the elegiac atmosphere that tempers many of Otto-Knapp's paintings.

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This is particularly explicit in her pictures of Kew Gardens near London and the Huntingdon Gardens in LA, which evoke something of the failed detachment of 19th-century scientific painting by artists such as Marianne North, who, in Otto-Knapp's words 'escaped her conventional life and travelled to exotic countries to document their flora There are murmurs of J. Turner and Claude Monet here, in the evident pleasure the artist takes in subtle shifts in colour, in the horizons abandoned for no reason other than that the paint demanded it, and in the details sacrificed for sake of homogeneity.

The dynamic wavers - in some pictures it's as if a giant piece of muslin had floated down from the sky and settled on all that green, heaving unrest; in others, the veins of a branch or the shape of a cactus are registered with a clinical eye. Recently Otto-Knapp has been concentrating on making images of the night because it's the only time of day when a lack of definition is a given and when shadows are more concrete than concrete.

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At night the world can feel more intense. This is something Otto-Knapp understands. She can make you remember seeing the evening lights of a city from an aeroplane, shining like pomegranate seeds; or driving a car through a foreign town on a rainy night, when the windows fog up and the neon signs outside dissolve.

These are the moments that make it easy to understand that abstraction isn't simply a theory; it's something we move through. Skip to main content.

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Twitter Facebook Email To Pinterest. By Jennifer Higgie. Vanishing act. Silke Otto-Knapp. Jennifer Higgie. Issue Nov - Dec More Like This Previous Next. Bow Down: Women in Art History. Learning to Let Go. Collier Schorr Learns How to Dance. More Features Previous Next.

A Vanishing Act

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