BERLIN.- Galerie Guido W. Baudach
is presenting Sun, its tenth solo exhibition of works by Viennese photographer, filmmaker and performance artist Erwin Kneihsl. In recent times, Kneihsl has come to the fore primarily with hand prints of analogue photographs of landscapes and architecture in classic black and white. In the current show, too, he remains true to the medium and his preferred subjects. His works, mounted with staples on grey board, captivate with precise photographic craftsmanship and pictorial expressiveness. Kneihsl's practice reveals traits of alchemy, both materially and ideally. The darkroom is his place of substantial experimentation. The individual components of the developing bath, the proportions, but also the respective tempering are well-kept trade secrets, on the basis of which Kneihsl transforms certain of the external impressions he captures through the camera lens into intersubjective internal echoes of light and shadow; mostly captured on baryta paper.
With Sun, Kneihsl continues an approach that, as far as spatial design is concerned, was already formative for his last two exhibitions nur (2016) and that's it (2018) and is characterised by the undisguised recourse to principles borrowed from Japanese culture and its own aesthetics. In contrast to the usual, comparatively glaring ceiling lighting, Kneihsl's gallery appears darkened. For apart from the natural daylight, which as usual falls in evenly distributed light through the frosted glass window at the entrance, the exhibition space is lit only by a few floor lamps covered with transparent shoji paper and a similarly minimalist-looking light box on the wall. The eye of the audience entering from outside must first get used to the dim light inside the gallery, but as time goes on, in keeping with the Japanese philosophy of setting light indoors, it perceives all the more and recognises even the most subtle details.
The photographic part of the exhibition, even if monkey and doll are not missing as obligatory Kneihsl motifs, is primarily dedicated to two groups of works. On the one hand, Kneihsl shows photographs of the sun with varying degrees of contrast - a favourite motif of his for many years - which he stages as a point (of light) in the sense of Wassily Kandinsky's painterly archetype. The second group of works consists of photographs taken in various Japanese gardens within the Vienna urban area. In them, Kneihsl transforms selected aspects of the overall appearance of these parks, which are as strictly as they are precisely designed, into surreal-looking photographic abstractions beyond time and place.
The two series in grainy black and white, which appear partly as pictures framed on the wall according to the artist's exact specifications and partly as layered collages loosely distributed on the floor, are complemented by a series of emblematic ink sketches in black and red. These are practice sheets by the caligraphy student Erwin Kneihsl, which, in addition to his thoroughly flawed attempts at writing, also show the associated corrections and pictorial comments by his teacher; all on classical rice paper. With this combination of unconcealed Japonism and outspoken dilettantism, Kneihsl brings together two currents of Western avant-garde that are seldom thought of together and which represent mutually constitutive points of reference both for his artistic practice per sé and for its current expression: Early Modernism and Punk.
Erwin Kneihsl (*1952) has participated in numerous international exhibitions at home and abroad in the course of his career spanning five decades. Selected exhibitions from the last twenty years include: In Medias Res, Hiromi Yoshii Gallery, Tokyo, 2018; Der rote Affe, The View, Budapest, 2017; Universe, Warsaw Gallery Weekend, Warsaw, 2014 / Prague Biennale 6, 2013; US, Fabrik K, St. Gallen, 2012; There is
, b-05 Kunst- und Kulturzentrum, Montabaur, 2012; Die Andere Seite, KAI 10 | Arthena Foundation, Dusseldorf, 2009; BERLIN2000, PaceWildenstein, New York, 2009; Mare Humorum 1, Hiromi Yoshii Gallery, Tokyo, 2008; La Petite Histoire, Kunstraum Niederösterreich, Vienna, 2008; Kommando Calvin Cohn, Salon 94, New York, 2007; Constructing New Berlin, Phoenix Art Museum and Bass Museum of Art, Miami, 2006; Ketzer & Co. - Montage auf der Achse Brünn Berlin, Haus der Kunst, Brno, 2006; Schwarz, Brot, Gold, Oldenburger Kunstverein, 2005; Licht 4 Der Heilige Berg, allerArt, Bludenz, 2004; Sex, Essen und Gewalt Teil 13 (Ausschnitt), Werkblock 1984-93, Le Bar du Paris Bar, Berlin, 2004; Montana Sacra (Circles 5), ZKM, Karlsruhe, 2001. Erwin Kneihsl edits Schönheit und Vernunft - Zeitschrift für Fototheorie (Beauty and Reason - Journal of Photo Theory), which is published at irregular intervals by Ich&Du in Vienna.