Karin Kneffel

Butter never crossed my mind.

September 4, 2013 – November 2, 2013


Galerie Schönewald und Beuse cordially invites you to the opening of the exhibition Karin Kneffel – Butter never crossed my mind, featuring 17 new works by the artist from the years 2012–2013. In her new paintings, Karin Kneffel develops a multilayered pictorial quality, which constantly oscillates between interior and exterior spaces and confronts the viewer with enigmatic and frequently uncanny scenes. One series of works revolves around the nocturnal scene of a house, which is viewed from the perspective of various interior spaces and arouses extremely suggestive visual experiences. The only thing that seems tangible is the bouquet of flowers that appears time and again; it is the starting point for images, which are almost magical and whose irritating degree of reality constantly challenges the viewer. The artist superimposes, for example, various motifs from the home owner’s television onto the nocturnal scenes, thus creating different moods located somewhere between dream and awakening, reality and phantasmagoria. These reflections of television images, as well as small details found in windows and curtains, refer in most cases to films by Alfred Hitchcock, which have fascinated Kneffel ever since childhood; they greatly enhance the uncanny atmosphere so characteristic of the nocturnal scenes. A second series of works is dedicated to views into the artist’s garden during various seasons of the year as well as views onto a snow-covered landscape. The scene is always viewed through a fogged up window pane, which makes the world appear to be covered by a veil. Paradoxically, only in those sections of the painting, which have been purposely smeared by the artist’s own hand, either with simple signs, words or phrases drawn with a finger in the condensation on the window, does the pictorial reality achieve that level of clarity, which has characterised Kneffel’s paintings from the very beginning. With these works, the viewer is once again engaged in a game of deception, which results in a fundamental questioning of reality. Here, Kneffel also quotes a remark by the architect Philip Johnson. As an employee of Mies van der Rohe, Johnson was responsible for, among other things, the interior design of the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York – a motif, which the artist also took as a theme for her exhibition last year in the Gagosian Gallery in New York. When the building owner rejected the proposed beige carpeting of the restaurant on the grounds that butter stains would be visible, Johnson is said to have responded with the statement: “Butter never crossed my mind”. In Kneffel’s works, this statement is taken up once again quite emphatically as a plea for artistic freedom. Especially since her highly impressive exhibition, Haus am Stadtrand (House on the Outskirts of Town), which was presented in the Museum Haus Esters in Krefeld in 2009, Kneffel has taken a close look at both historical buildings and spaces and common, everyday architecture, and used these to merge together history and the present, reality and fiction. In the process, she has constantly expanded upon her broad vocabulary of illusionistic images, which works with reflexes, reflections, drops of water and varying points of focus. In her current exhibition, she puts this vocabulary once again to the test with unprecedented virtuosity.

Karin Kneffel was born in Marl/Germany in 1959 and studied at the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf from 1981 to 1987 under Johannes Brus, Norbert Tadeusz and Gerhard Richter; she graduated as a master student of Gerhard Richter. She lives and works in Düsseldorf and is a professor of painting at the Academy of Arts in Munich. Her most recent solo exhibitions were presented in the Gagosian Gallery, New York (2012), Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich (2012) and the Kunsthalle Tübingen (2010); in addition, works by the artist are currently on view in, among other places, the Museum Franz Gertsch in Burgdorf/Switzerland, and in the Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem.


Installation images