German painter Thoralf Knobloch explores land-based themes specific to his native Berlin and Germany’s eastern border, including concepts of land use, commerce, and abandoned industrial landscapes. His paintings are largely studies in stillness, rendering the architectural detail and manufactured elements of rural roads and urban bridges, all of which are absent of the human figure.
Knobloch is a painter of the silent world; he presents us with abandoned structures of industry— factories, warehouses, lakeside recreational shorelines—and in so doing suggests a host of questions rooted in origin and consequence: What is ruin? What have we made? What have we preserved? Where should we live, and how? By painting the physical elements that once ordered states and nations, Knobloch distills the beauty of form and function, as well as the political implications of passage and access.
Working from his own reference photographs, the artist narrows his gaze to a partial, often cinematic view, documenting his subjects and their most essential elements as inspiration for painting. Knobloch’s process is part abstraction and part distillation. The final paintings do two skillful things at once: they represent place and ruminate on the political past, its traces of nations and citizenry.
Knobloch’s paintings offer no answers; rather, they invite dialogue via their exquisite capacity for observation. Their visual language is purely material, paying close attention to formal details, surface, and structure. In depicting the ordinary, rusted ruins of bridges, shorelines, road signs and industrial buildings, Knobloch evokes a former cultural dynamism that has been eclipsed by absence, or depleted by development. His meditative work commands our attention toward a changing culture and ecology: he not only renders the erosion of culture and nature; his paintings also ignite questions about the places and spaces of the future.
Thoralf Knobloch (b.1962, in Bautzen, Germany) is a contemporary painter based in Berlin. His landscapes and object studies are regarded for their composition, color, and photographic perspective. Knobloch’s paintings, largely drawn from imagery in and around native Dresden and Berlin, supply painterly life to the most ordinary of objects and suggest poetic transport. Knobloch is a graduate of Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden, where he studied under Ralf Kerbach, and he was the 2003 recipient of the Vattenfall Europe award. In 2005, he was a German representative artist at the Prague Biennale. Knobloch is represented by Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Dresden/Berlin, and Wilkinson Gallery, London, and his work is included in numerous public and private collections, including Kunstmuseum Dieselkraftwerk Cottbus, Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Städtische Galerie Dresden, and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami.