A few months every year, Otto-Knapp retreats to Fogo Island, part of an archipelago off the northeast coast of Newfoundland. She made the island the subject of a series of paintings which culminated in a 6’x30’ multi-panel canvas commissioned and acquired by the Hammer Museum. Rather than serving as a study, the smaller series of paintings to which this one belongs is a body of work in its own right. For the past several years, Otto-Knapp has worked exclusively in grisaille, gray monochrome painting. Rather than oil, she uses water color, building what are fragile surfaces in layers. Unlike the large commission, this painting altogether shuns contrast. There are no blacks or whites, only a rich mid-range of grays whose tonal scale rivals that of photography. Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown Enterprise.
Gavin Brown's Enterprise
About Silke Otto-Knapp
Silke Otto-Knapp’s practice involves rinsing away layers of watercolor on canvas to create a nearly transparent wash of paint in a ghostly and luminous effect. Otto-Knapp finds "hybrid positions with their unresolved status particularly interesting," she has said. "It’s about putting the transparent quality of the paint into conflict with the clarity of the photographic image." Focusing on subjects ranging from lush, near-abstract landscapes to moving figures, Otto-Knapp occasionally deviates from her muted palette to create vividly chromatic works, though always with a profusion of hazy light making figures indistinct. Like most of her paintings, the series “Winterlong” (2009) is based on photographs, used here to depict modern dancers in motion.
German, b. 1970, Osnabrück, Germany, based in Germany