Number 112, 2014

Hong Kong 2016
Galerie Thomas
acrylic on aluminium
129.0 x 97.5 x 4.5 (cm)
50.8 x 38.4 x 1.8 (inch)
Verso signed and dated. Unique piece. Already during his studies at the Düsseldorf Art Academy with Beuys in the 1960s Imi Knoebel intensely dealt with the oeuvre of Kasimir Malewitsch. The Russian constructivist's pivotal work, the black square on white, in its monumentalization and the radical break with any form of composition or representation of painting,was a decisive experience for the young student, as for many other painters of his generation. Despite the various studies of the constructive geometric paintingof the Russian avantgarde, from the Bauhaus to the American Abstract Expressionists and the minimalists, Imi Knoebel was dealing with the question of organizing space and colour in the picture, with non-representational composition well-nigh in the musical sense. In the recent works, parts of which Knoebel presented this year in the exhibition "Malewitsch zu Ehren" (Honouring Malevich), the artists again takes up this reference to Malevich. "Nr. 112" assembles two geometric elements to a colour plate, a white rectangle with a slanted red rectangle on top. This time Knoebel refers to the red square by Malevich. Like Malevich, who brings movement into the composition by placing the square in a slightly off-centre position on the white ground, and makes the suprematist space comprehensible for the viewer, Knoebel upsets the severity and balance in his work with the slightly trapezoid shape of the red colour field. It seems as though Knoebel's reference is not only directed at Malevich, but also at the American painters of Hard Edge and Shaped Canvasses, artists such as Ellsworth Kelly or Frank Stella, to name just two. However, Knoebel has hidden another reference to Kasimir Malevich in the series of which this work is part. He has given a picture with a similar composition as "Nr. 112" the title "Una's Haus". Thus he invested the severely geometric constructive composition with an immediate representational connotation, which in an ironic manner reconciles the aloofness of the non-representational Suprematism with the viewer's wish for a recognizable image. "Una" is not only the name of Knoebel's granddaughter, but it was also the name of Malevich's daughter, derived from "UNOWIS", the name of the artist group he founded, which means "Confirmors of New Art".