Critics’ Picks

Schneemann (Snowman), 2007, oil on canvas, 17 3/4 x 21 5/8".

Schneemann (Snowman), 2007, oil on canvas, 17 3/4 x 21 5/8".


Thoralf Knobloch

Wilkinson Gallery
50-58 Vyner Street
September 6–October 7, 2007

Fourteen new paintings by Berlin-based artist Thoralf Knobloch inaugurate Wilkinson Gallery’s expansive new space, engaging its dramatic dimensions and elegant proportions. Knobloch paints from photographs he has taken, certain details of which he has edited out or accentuated before carrying out the first brushstroke. Making lean compositions, he zooms in on commonplace objects, emphasizing color and perspective while leaving key indicators of location and narrative tantalizingly ambiguous. In Planke (Plank; all works 2007), Knobloch presents the inside of a small wooden rowboat with clothing strewn in three piles on the floorboards. Although it is a meticulous, skillfully rendered study of depth and form, the painting comes across with a certain casualness, depicting a scene that suggests sunbathers, swimmers, or an illicit summertime affair. The artist channels Ed Ruscha not only in his intertwined practices of photography and painting but in his subject matter, as in his diptych Tankstelle Oberlausitz (Petrol Station in Oberlausitz)—though of course Knobloch’s gas station is located in eastern Germany rather than on Route 66. The brightly painted building appears fully lit, but Knobloch captures a moment when it is completely deserted. The suggested presence of people despite their pictorial absence is apparent in a more oblique way in Schneemann (Snowman), whose subject, alone on a snowy expanse, charmingly resembles a human. The exaggerated yet highly legible figure demonstrates Knobloch’s ability to create forms that are simultaneously representational and fleeting in their figuration—even as the snow melts, the subject retains distinguishing features like his coal eyes and carrot nose.