Silke Otto-Knapp: Monotones at Mary Boone Gallery in Chelsea (video)

“Monotones” (Figures and groups), 73″ by 183″(3) Watercolor/canvas, 2016

On 7 January 2017, Mary Boone Gallery opened at its Chelsea location Monotones, an exhibition of new work by SILKE OTTO-KNAPP, shown in cooperation with Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York/Rome, and curated by Piper Marshall.

The exhibition takes its title from the two-part ballet of Frederick Ashton, who, like historical and contemporary choreographers, phrased movement to compositions by Erik Satie. In this site-specific exhibition, Otto-Knapp reflects on the language and settings of performance. The artist asks us to relate painting to a “monotone,” an uninterrupted repetition, a gesture that is in extended use.

“Monotones” (Westcoast II), 73″ by 61″. watercolor/canvas, 2016

Conceived as an installation, the exhibition wraps around the architecture of the gallery. Large, multi-panel canvases, some hung continuously, others spaced apart, were scaled to the artist’s body. The works are made by applying many layers of watercolor to canvas, a process that gives form to representations of rehearsal, demonstration, and landscape. In some paintings, the pictured bodies simulate phrases of modern dance. Such demarcations question how memory inflects techniques of the body. The figures move in a compressed space between and against the backdrop and the surface of the picture plane. In others, sea meets land and sky amid an evasive horizon line. These paintings float, simultaneously insisting on a proximity and separation, coming together only to remain distinct. The historically sourced images, montaged together, gesture to the past, and yet their contemporary composition insists on the present. As the paintings wend around the gallery, they offer the experience of moving through space and time where the perspective point of one canvas fades into the next. The effect is an all-over composition that could be read as unmodulated. Its comprehension demands engagement, eliciting a recognition of duration.

Select solo exhibitions of Otto-Knapp include: the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Museo Marino Marini, Florence; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; Fogo Island Arts, Canada; Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; Camden Arts Centre, London; Kunstverein München, Munich; Modern Art Oxford, Oxford; and Tate Britain, London.

The exhibition, at 541 West 24 Street, is on view through 25 February 2017. For further information, please contact Ron Warren at the Gallery, or visit our website

Photographs and press release provided by the gallery.

“Monotones” (Seascape), 73″ by 244″(4) Watercolor/canvas, 2016
“Monotones” (Westcoast 1), 73″ by 61″ Watercolor/canvas, 2016
“Monotones” (Moonlit scene after Samuel Palmer), 73″ by 122″ (2), watercolor/canvas, 2016
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Jamie Martinez

Jamie Martinez is the founder/publisher of ARTE FUSE contemporary art platform and the founder/director of The Border Project Space. He is an artist using the concept of triangulation throughout his work. His process involves constructing, deconstructing and fragmenting images, data, and information geometrically into triangulated segments. Follow him @JamieMartinezStudio WWW.JAMIEMARTINEZ.NET

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