Press release EUROPA, 2017 (Engl.)
The Gallery van der Grinten is pleased to show the first installation by the Düsseldorf artist, Christoph Knecht, in its entirety. After exhibitions at the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art in Israel, at MMK3 in Frankfurt/M, and the Künstlerforum Bonn, the work “Europa” is, until now, the most unified and cohesive installation of ceramic tiles, one that includes the artist’s most recent works.
Along all the walls of the Gallery’s two exhibition rooms whose architecture historically connotes the mid-19th century, Christoph Knecht has assembled a frieze made up of over 3000 hand-painted tiles. The tiles, painted in the majolica technique, are designed after the azulejo art of Portugal that keeps to its typical cobalt blue. As a consequence of the choice of this artistic medium and working method, the artist is alluding to the European history of the colonial era, on the one hand, while on the other indicating that era’s impact on his art motifs.
Europe was the originator of the idea of ongoing technical and cultural progress and, as such, is seeking a new status for itself in the global world. Having conquered this world over the past centuries, it finds itself confronted with the aftereffects of these incursions. The exhibition title thus refers to the engagement this European artist is undertaking with his own culture and history and the resulting changes effected by present-day social, cultural and political influences.
By way of an artistic commitment to these themes whereby the medium is an essential component of the message, he builds a bridge to the present with a stylized kebab (a sculpture cast in bronze and hand painted) as a symbol for his generation’s Germany within a larger, multicultural Europe. With this romanticized regress to craftsmanship and the following break via the efficiency of technological fabrication, he formulates a new vocabulary and describes the complex, but still very positive, relationship to his own native country. By an appropriation of cultural codes and traditional production processes, Christoph Knecht has fabricated a sociopolitical investigation into his own culture at the beginning of a new and global age.
His occupation with the material of glazed tiles as a picture support is typical of Christoph Knecht’s double interest in traditional techniques and their use in everyday life.