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FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE: THE ART OF SILKE OTTO-KNAPP

Silke Otto-Knapp, Swimmers, 2006, watercolor and gouache on canvas, 51 1/4 x 60".

ANY ENCOUNTER WITH SILKE OTTO-KNAPP’S NEW PAINTINGS inevitably becomes a kinetic affair. The ordinary small movements that occur when one stands in front of a painting—shifting one’s weight from one foot to the other, inadvertently changing perspective—reveal that what seems a silver monochrome from one point of view is immediately discernible as a figurative painting from another. One finds oneself stepping from side to side in order to better consider the puzzling sensation accompanying these appearances and disappearances, leaning forward and back, tilting one’s head this way and that.

One effect of this optical mutability is that the works are particularly resistant to photographic reproduction, since the camera effectively isolates Otto-Knapp’s figuration by fixing the perspective and eliminating the possibility of viewing her painting in time. For instance, a

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