Magazine of art press and reviews from London
David Franchi – Sunday, 30th August 2015.
The first exhibition of Imi Knoebel in London was superb, at the White Cube gallery.
Worldwide renowned, in London Imi Knoebel presents the exhibition ‘Inside the White Cube’. He is one of the leading artists of his generation. Spanning for over 50 years, Knoebel’s body of work includes drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, projection and installation.
This exhibition presents new and existing paintings and sculpture in acrylic on aluminium, but also a group of works purposely created for the ‘9 x 9 x 9’ space of the White Cube.
The inspiration of Knoebel’s is determinedly formal. He investigates the result and strength of colour and materials, following and renovating the example of Modernism, in particular drawing influence from the geometrical abstractions of Malevich and Mondrian.
The artist followed is personal method to make exhibitions, consisting in create the installation as a single work in itself within which the single works will interrelate by themselves building new interactions about form, colour and space.
Knoebel production is unrestricted, and it rejects any ideas of spirituality potentially attached to pure abstraction. He often works in groups or series. He elaborates again specific themes and materials, at different moments and again at other points in his career. The works at the White Cube exhibition are all made from aluminium panels (first used in 1991) and reveals his habit of expanding and reinterpreting earlier subjects to form building blocks for new work.
A new group of paintings (2014–15) continues Knoebel’s meticulous abstraction working with organic and geometric shaped panels in combinations of two or three colours, sometimes possessing a fluorescent effect. Juxtaposed in various ways, these reliefs or object-like paintings test Knoebel’s formal concerns contrasting hard edged with soft, coloured with neutral, and matt with reflective to vivid effect.
Highlights of the White Cube exhibition are MOLANI (2001), where Knoebel comes back to the motif of the window, and Amor Intellectualis Tafel DCCCLVI (2006/ 2013) uses white acrylic and mirrored glass to reflect the surrounding gallery architecture into its pictorial field. In Ort-Rosa (2013), Knoebel uses pale pink panels to create a semi-enclosure, like the corner of a makeshift room enfolding the viewer.
For the 9x9x9 space Knoebel has conceived an entirely new work: seven ‘Kites’, large, quadrilateral paintings, all in white, hung at varying heights on walls.
Imi Knoebel, pseudonym of Klaus Wolf Knoebel (Dresden, 31st December 1940), is a German painter. He is known for his minimalist, abstract painting and sculpture.
Together with Imi Giese (1942-1974), from 1962 to 1964 he attended to the School of Arts and Crafts in Darmstadt,
where, according to the ideas of the Bauhaus preliminary course of Johannes Itten and László Moholy-Nagy, learned exercises of construction and structural composition. Together with Giese again, in 1964 he joined the class of graphic design of Walter Breker, at the Academy of Fine Arts of Düsseldorf.
Since 1965 Knoebel took the name ‘Imi’ – like his friend Rainer Giese – and they made their first exhibition, IMI + IMI in Copenhagen (1968). After that, he has exhibited his works in documentas 5 (1972), 6 (1977), 7 (1982), and 8 (1987), and at Sonsbeek (1971). In 1996 the Haus der Kunst, Munich, staged a large retrospective of his works which travelled throughout Europe, including such venues as the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Centre Julio González, Valencia. Knoebel had a major retrospective in summer 2009 at the Hamburger Bahnhof and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.
Imi Knoebel now lives and works as a freelance artist in Dusseldorf.
In May 2006, Knoebel received the honorary doctorate from the University of Jena (Germany).
The exhibition ‘Inside the White Cube’ by Imi Knoebel is at the White Cube gallery, Bermondsey, London, from 15th July until 13th September 2015.