Silke Otto-Knapp, "Figure (bending)," 2007, watercolour and gouache on canvas.
SILKE OTTO-KNAPP, Standing anywhere in the space in a relaxed position
Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff
July 25 to September 27, 2009
By Rob Alexander
At first glance, Silke Otto-Knapp’s watercolour paintings of ballet and contemporary dancers appear less complex than they really are. If fact her work — shown internationally at galleries including the Tate Britain and Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts — is layered with multiple conceptual and experimental elements. German-born but living and working in London, Otto-Knapp applies thin layers of watercolour paint to her canvases, exploring dance and the body. Her luminous metallic figures appear to float in tightly constrained compositions establishing a critical dialogue between the body and the space around it, says Kitty Scott, Visual Arts director and interim senior curator at the Walter Phillips Gallery at The Banff Centre. “It’s that relationship to space and the body that she is really interested in. She wants to distinguish the body from space and at the same time keep them as linked and united as possible,” Scott says. Otto-Knapp achieves her fluid representations of the body through meticulous research and observation. “They’re not spontaneous paintings,” Scott adds. “They’re conceptualized and thought through,” Scott says. As part of this summer show, the gallery will present Otto-Knapp’s work — some of which was created at The Banff Centre during a 2008 residency — in a way that involves viewers, and reminds them of their own physical presence in the space that surrounds them.