The eye’s journey, by Léa Bismuth
What does the eye do when in contact with one of Kassia Knap’s canvases ? Could we even talk of a canvas, in the sense of a painted surface ? Precisely because the eye cannot simply « glide » or wander over leisurely on an even surface. It would rather have to climb, to scale the mountain trying to catch hold of the steep rock face, made of faults in which to slide, as well as promontories that are hard to climb. The eye, losing its balance, catches hold as best it can but the ascent is no small feat.
Unless it decides to slow down, take the time to not see anything at first, but wait for something to slowly appear before it. So much so that looking at one of Kassia Knap’s paintings calls for such a precaution at least at first. And eventually, with a little patience, the landscape suddenly appears : a landscape of snow and dirt, a horizon of craters lit up by a silver moon, or by a shy winter sun, unless the colored fury carries us to other worlds, dreamier and more flamboyant.
The eye can then wander over, it feels at home, and its journey could never end, the trajectory combinations being so numerous. Because each painting is a world in itself, a « monad » the artist tells us in reference to Leibniz’s pattern. In philosophy, a nomad is indeed this absolute unit that could never be dissolved, like a concentration of meaning that would only draw its strength from within. Each work reflects this quest for totality and follows the same realization process : the artist displays the rough linen canvas on the floor that she will then sculpt directly onto the frame like living matter. Follows a very physical choreography with this mass she works on, folds, coils, moves, lifts and disrupts, and that she will eventually freeze, like ice, using glue and paint. Each canvas bears witness to such a struggle, practice daily, as an « exercise » necessary to life, in relation to a need to express oneself and write one’s story. Le Bernin would carve bodies in ecstasy in marble ; while Kassia Knap, engaged in a real sculptural process, creates emotional concretions in linen cloth. The Baroque derivation isn’t an idle word, since the artist claims a philosophical processing of the fold in her work true to what Gilles Deleuze said about it in his famous book : « the fold : the Baroque invents the infinite work or process. The problem is not how to finish a fold but how to continue it, to have it go through the ceiling, how to bring it to infinity »1. It is that same fold that is being renewed at every instant here, in the depths of the matter of sculpted canvas.
More than a journey, the eye can also travel to imaginary lands, geographical territories as well as historical : it is as much about the archeology of an underground and memorial violence, hard to qualify or satisfy, than about a cartography with a rugged terrain. After all, isn’t there something of the great Baroque drama, the canvas becoming the scene where the battle actually took « place » ?
Gilles Deleuze, Le Pli, Leibniz et le baroque, Editions de Minuit, 1988, page 48