Anima Mundi, Kartoffelbilder and Cut-upThis exhibition features a selection from three current groups of works by the Düsseldorf-based artist Imi Knoebel. Since the beginning of his career, Knoebel has pursued the project of a strictly non-figurative art. At first glance, his works appear very different, but on closer inspection a strong internal connection can be detected, the single parts of which relate to each other like different facets of a greater whole. First, we have the series Anima Mundi, which is a reference to the ancient concept of the world soul as conceived by the late Roman philosopher Plotin, who based this idea on Plato. The series comprises 3 to 5 objects. Together, they follow a simple but clear hermetic structure. They have a single variable that consists of color in all its possible combinations, subtle shades, and fine nuances. Each row, like the overall project, has the potential to reach toward infinity.
The series Kartoffelbilder, on the other hand, marks something completely different, as can be seen in its title. Here we see oval shapes, profiles, as well as triangles and squares, positioned independently and irregularly on top of each other, creating a relief that has a strong spatial element and that crosses over from the invisible to the visible. The series is also an example for how several working methods and principles of the artist come together to form the unified foundation for all of his works: the history of non-representational painting.
The project of radical, non-representational art, such as that initiated by Kazimir Malevich in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, is, if nothing else, a firm rejection of conventional ideas of the picture and meaning. Destruction gives birth to something new, and the end of painting means the beginning of a new pictorial language. The randomizing technique of the cut-up, which was used prominently by the avant-garde and by modernist literature, is the basis for the third series in this exhibition by Imi Knoebel called Cut-up. This group of works relies on coloring that has been reduced to black, white, and a silvery grey. In terms of form, the series reads as if an existing text with a particular narrative and a conventional logic has been broken down into a dozen parts and reassembled into new constellations. Or it seems as if fragments from old black and white self-contained pictures have been cut up into strips and put together in an exciting and dynamic montage to form arrow-like objects, pointing in all directions, or the objects appear held together by plastic tubing, like a ribbon. The picture, which was perhaps hermetic, opaque, and untouchable in its original form, is made over into something new, open, transparent, and dynamic. Instead of adding to the picture, Knoebel awakens dormant possibilities through his highly calculated alterations.