previews

  • “Silke Otto-Knapp: In the waiting room”

    The Renaissance Society
    5811 South Ellis Avenue Cobb Hall, 4th floor
    January 11–March 29, 2020

    Curated by Solveig Øvstebø

    Joining the likes of Florine Stettheimer, Trisha Brown, and Yvonne Rainer, the Russian protofeminist painter, performance artist, and costume designer Natalia Goncharova is the latest female avant-gardist to have inspired Los Angeles–based artist Silke Otto-Knapp. The five new multipanel watercolors in the show, several of which feature silhouettes of female dancers, allude to Goncharova’s affiliation with the Ballets Russes. Incorporated into a multidimensional installation of temporary walls—a stage set of sorts—these large-scale paintings of intimate backstage moments and confrontational onstage choreographies blur the distinctions between actor, spectator, and voyeur. A pivotal reference for the exhibition is Goncharova’s Spring, 1927–28, a decorative screen covered in botanical motifs that was originally commissioned for the Arts Club of Chicago; Otto-Knapp reimagines her muse’s artwork as a freestanding wall, a key element in this black-and-white theater in which viewers are cast as performers.