October 11, 2019 - Museum Frieder Burda - Karin Kneffel
October 11, 2019

Museum Frieder Burda

Karin Kneffel, Untitled, 2004. Oil on Canvas, 100 x 300 cm. Private Collection, Frankfurt. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019.

Karin Kneffel
October 12, 2019–March 8, 2020

Museum Frieder Burda
Lichtentaler Allee 8 b
76530 Baden-Baden
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm

T +49 7221 398980
F +49 7221 3989830

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Karin Kneffel’s paintings are like laboratories of memory. Born in 1957, this master student of Gerhard Richter counts among Germany’s most important contemporary painters. This retrospective was realized in close cooperation with the artist herself and Kunsthalle Bremen. Featuring some 140 works from three decades, it traces her artistic development from the photo-realistic, oversized paintings of fruits with which she gained international renown in the early 1990s, to her construction of complex interiors of painting, in which time and image, art, architecture and film blend with one another. While Richter uses smudges and unfocussed images as an artistic means of addressing his own biography, German history and art history, Kneffel used blurred images and reflections. She creates a hallucinogenic form of painting that can assume various states of matter. The viewer sees her pictorial spaces or scenarios, which seem to play out beneath a frozen surface, through panes blurred by condensation or drops of water. Kneffel’s virtuoso work inhabits the border zone between depiction and reality, memory and fiction.

Often, her settings seem like psychologically charged scenes for imaginary plots. In doing so, she uses a range of motifs that could almost be clues or symbols from a Hitchcock movie: withering tulips, cleaning women, the X-shaped cross. For Kneffel, the central question is how we preserve private and collective memories, how we set up inside them and what power structures these arrangements represent. This becomes clear in a series of paintings she started in 2009, in which she addressed the city villas Haus Esters and Haus Lange, which were built in 1927/28 by Mies van der Rohe. Initially intended by these collector families as private residences, the houses now serve as exhibition spaces for the Kunstmuseum Krefeld. Kneffel also researched historical photos of the living rooms, which were adorned with art and design, painting life-sized views and hanging them on the corresponding walls of the exhibition spaces—like ghostly mirrors through which we can see the past. Then, she followed the collectors’ artworks to their current locations in European museums and depicted the sculptures and paintings as they are displayed by the institutions. In her excursions, Kneffel observes a male-dominated modernity in which women’s contributions are ignored—a deceptive view still reflected by the museums of today.

Museum Frieder Burda
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