NY Times Art in Review: Silke Otto-Knapp

Silke Otto-Knapp, “Three Sisters,” 2009, watercolor and gouache on canvas, 39 1/2 x 51″
Silke Otto-Knapp, “Group (walking),” 2009, watercolor and gouache on canvas, 59 x 47 1/4″

SILKE OTTO-KNAPP: Interiors, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, West Village. Through Saturday. Roberta Smith: Silke Otto-Knapp’s paintings often dwell on those marginalized by modernism, whether because they are women or because their chosen medium is ephemeral. Dancers and female painters figure in her second New York gallery show, evoked in images culled from old photographs and rendered in simplified shapes that sometimes merge in a surface brushiness or are outlined in the manner of cartoons. Either way, the images stir the memory, depending of course upon what memories you have….Ms. Otto-Knapp tends to depict her figures and interiors in a reticent white-on-white palette that of course has its own history in modernism. In this exhibition she occasionally dips her toe in strong color, which is a good idea. The white gives these canvases a mournful, passive and (dare I say?) ladylike demeanor. Perhaps this is an intended irony indicating marginalization — the way some cultural contributions fade while others don’t. But it seems to buy into being forgotten.

Read the entire Art in Review column here.

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