Critics’ Picks

Silke Otto-Knapp, “Three seascapes,” 2013, forty-two etchings, 11 x 17’6”.

Silke Otto-Knapp, “Three seascapes,” 2013, forty-two etchings, 11 x 17’6”.

Los Angeles

Silke Otto-Knapp

Overduin & Co.
6693 Sunset Boulevard
May 25–July 13, 2013

For her second solo show at the gallery, Vienna-based artist Silke Otto-Knapp presents a highly individualized body of new work that features a wall of etchings and her signature watercolor-on-canvas paintings. The works pivot between daydream-like images and a detached nostalgic charm reminiscent of Edward Gorey’s drawings. Here, though, the delicate washes of color and purposefully vague subject matter seduce the viewer into wandering through the various flights of fantasy put on display.

The centerpiece of the exhibition’s first room is “Three Seascapes,” 2013, forty-two unique etchings that employ monotype techniques. The prints’ discontinuous narrative, like a sampling of random stills pinched from an animated film, seemingly begins with an orb rising over a body of water. These initial images read as both the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon—based on how the plate was wiped—pointing to a Pop art meditation on the power and mutability of repeated imagery.

Perambulating the gallery’s back room, one is graced with a group of watercolor paintings depicting faceless swimmers in turn-of-the-century bathing costumes, quiet yet loony stage sets with sailboats drifting around on backdrops, and plump cartoon waves and shooting stars framed by stiff curtains. The latter composition is titled Stage with Shooting Stars (Blue and Gold), 2013, which is also reprised as a larger grayscale painting on an adjacent wall. This school-play imagery shamelessly teeters on the precipice of kitsch, but the beauty of Otto-Knapp’s paintings is in their light touch. They sing lullabies, not show tunes. The artist’s layers of watered pigment combined with vibrant, simple shapes give the pictures a ghostly and gentle sensibility that is sure to linger.