The game Scrabble, which Knowles enjoys playing, was the inspiration for Rack, Reck, Rick, Rock, Ruck, a text painting wherein the titular words are spelled out in red lettering on a brown background. “Rick is a name, but it’s also a word in the dictionary. Reck without a W is a word in the dictionary, too,” he explains.
“When Chris plays Scrabble, he always wins,” Netzer adds.
Knowles’s vibrant figurative painting, Wall Street (2017), was made at the suggestion of Gavin Brown, who thought Knowles’s unique sensibility would work well with historical New York City sites. Knowles has never visited Wall Street, but instead worked from a black-and-white news photo, turning the dreary cityscape into a field of brilliant colors.
That’s the kind of transformational energy Christopher Knowles brings to the crazy world around him. It’s there in his paintings. It’s there in his typings. It’s there as he dances in place, snapping his fingers to music on the sound system, waiting to read from his texts at a party for the launch of his vinyl recording, The Typing Poems, produced by Matthew Higgs, director of the White Columns gallery in New York.
And that energy was there when I saw him skipping, creeping, and crawling through the newspaper stage-set at the Whitebox Art Center, during The Sundance Kid is Beautiful. “Christopher’s work is complex, it’s not as simple as you might think,” says Noah Khoshbin, who directed Knowles in that performance. “There are some dark undertones. But he’s just got this radiance about him.”