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Prof. Dr. Helge Bathelt, MA

Claus Knobel, The Australia Pictures,
Contribution after a laudation, given in Stuttgart Bad Cannstatt in February 2013 by Prof. Dr. Helge Bathelt, MA

Works of art are a series of suggestions of the most varied kinds, which lead to a design process, at the end of which the work stands as a synthesis. The suggestions, like the results, are of the most varied kinds. Claus Knobel is someone who takes long external paths: in order to come across something essential, which he gives a speaking form. In his form finding, he is not one-dimensionally tied to an expression or style: rather, he follows the claim that comes from the observed and recognized and develops an appropriate form: his personal variant of "form follows function".

He has written down his experiences in Australia in an extensive series of pictures and has reached the sources of the continent with the Aborigines. He knows how to differentiate between existence and essence and also reflects on something in common that connects the world invention of the primitive people with their own cultural coding in an astonishing way. That is why there are two quotes at the beginning, which differ in a surprisingly similar way. They should accompany us on the way to the art of Knobels.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Third Sonnet for Orpheus, written as a grave mark for Wera Ouckama Knoop, Château de Muzot in February 1922

“A god can. But how, tell me, should

a man follow him through the narrow lyre?

Its meaning is dichotomy. At the intersection of two

Herzwege does not represent a temple for Apollo.

Singing the way you teach it is not a desire

not advertising for something that has finally been achieved;

Singing is existence. Easy for God.

But when are we? And when does he turn

in our being the earth and the stars

It is not this, young man, that you love, even if you do

the voice then opens your mouth - learn

forget that you got upset. That runs away.

Singing in truth is a different breath.

A breath about nothing. A woe in God. A wind. "

Bruce Chatwin's travelogues and reports made him famous all over the world. In his novel "The Songlines" - "Traumpfade" he tells:

"Dream paths", according to the belief of the Australian natives, are the labyrinthine lines and imaginary paths along which the legendary ancestors of the dream time wandered across the continent and singingly named everything that crossed their paths - birds, animals, plants, rocks, water holes - and so sang the world into existence ... If you wound the earth, you wound yourself ... and when others wound the earth, they wound you. The land should remain untouched: like in the dream time, when the ancestors sang the world into existence. "

Knobel, as he would like to meet someone else, knows a sensitivity for a successful encounter, which perceives what is viewed as something such and independent and knows that his own starting point is not a superior one just because this starting point is based on the ones based on it Success means to be able to show.

In Knobel we find a mainly spiritual traveler who has dealt with three things on his long excursions to Australia, namely, first, the search for the primal of the continent, second, whether something of this primal has remained and third, what the confrontation of that primal with that Has left destructive traces of our world conquest.

Seeing the original, what remained and what was destroyed as stages in, for example, a politically sound discussion between the author of the picture and his travel destination led me past Knobels' special quality of encounter. In addition, it would then reveal itself in a critical character of his art, an art that instead, in its depth of space, in its transfiguration of the contour, in its scriptural elements and in its subtle and color irritations, subordinate it to something apparently real the adapted surface of the present aims and conjures up the spirits of the ancestors of those who once created the country singing and whose descendants still carry the song in themselves, of course covered by the gambling salons and bars, the intrusive traffic everywhere, on which Knobel takes revenge by driving it out in layers that mask all noise, leaving the Aborigines in their adaptation - shown on the outside - but giving them back their dignity, made visible in their physiognomies, in the hauntingly color-turned portraits of Knobels, in to which their origins become visible.

Of course, Claus Knobel was out with the camera and brought thousands of pictures with him. He searched his way through in search of what might still be left of the dream paths. This search eventually led to a photo archeology. Knobel evaluated his photographic originals until he discovered particles of what was once the important thing, what tried to escape access in a quick escape and therefore can only be held as a scheme, just an island fleeting knowledge forms, remains more of a mere hunch and is over again: and in doing so, the question can also leave behind what is authentic in the picture or what, for example, deviates from what is only apparently secured. In the portrait of a hundred and four-year-old, for example, a blind woman, almost on her deathbed, Knobel captured such a moment that points beyond the existence of the person pictured and reminds of the venerability of her ancestors, who once singing and building paths and caring for an intact and in themselves had created a dormant world.

Knobel hardly leaves anything of the canvas on his painting surface. Its primer creates a first flat level. This is where scriptural elements come into their own, they are signs of Knobel's thorough preoccupation with the subject of his interest, they are literary work in the classical sense. Protected by a first layer of the thinnest silk, frames now begin to translate parts of the photographic notes into paintings. On the next layer of silk, an ambience is added that quotes the time and place. The figure follows in the next layers. Between the layers, a whole is finally created by franking an earlier one. A telling but above all restrained color scheme refers to the fragility in what is depicted.


© by the author. Text released for publication by the artist.

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