Paul Kneale

Re-Up v02 (Gstaad), 2016

Acrylic, CNC cut high density polyurethane, process drawings and text, resin coating

140 × 40 × 100 cm

Edition size: 2

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For his contribution to Project 1049, artist Paul Kneale has engaged with the notion of the commissioned object: with a focus on the public sculptures of Gstaad, he asked art writers to produce critiques of particular in situ works, which were then used — via an online platform — to commission new illustrations based on these descriptions. The resultant drawings have been turned back into physical objects, a series of 3D modelled sculptures made of polystyrene and resin, which have been installed near their original versions: a mise-en-abîme of aesthetic interpretation repeated back to itself across genre and discipline.

Below, it is possible to read the anonymous critic’s text that inspired the commissioned drawing:

The ways in which children mimic the hierarchies and class systems of the adult world are oftentimes of amusement to the figures who bear responsibility for their care. And by regarding such behaviour as memetic of adults, it is annexed as inorganic. ‘What an adorable play, a microcosm of the persistent inequities caused by forces beyond us!’ But perhaps the situation is linked to deeper and more complicated psychological dispositions which have already emerged at a young age.

In this sculpture we at first see two serene youths, one playing a woodwind instrument with a noble concentration, the other gazing placidly toward the near horizon, perhaps listening. Their figures are stylised, elongated in a vaguely mannerist way, yet also simplified and modern. No muscle tone is evident beneath their flowing tunic like garments. They are both lanky and formless. They sit separated by height. The figure who plays the flute is seated higher, seemingly in judgement, on a separated pedestal of beige stone, looking intently downward at the flute, its legs hanging over the edge of the platform and crossed at the ankles. There is a sense of poise, but also tension. It holds something back in order to judge downward. Below, the listener dreamily takes in the music. Seated as one might on the grass in a park, with arms out straight behind the hips, holding up the upper body, while its legs are loosely spread open, one bent and raised, one bent and allowed to rest on the ground, both feet coming together, sole of resting leg to the inside arch of the raised one. The position suggests submission, and perhaps even ennui or laziness. One feels the paradox that the act of listening, in its passivity, places the listener as subordinate. The price of pleasure is the subjugation of the ego.

They are ultimately separated from each other. And this psychological distance is reinforced by the cool reduction of the forms. Their tunics conceal most of their bodies, yet we can tell that beneath the fabric, there has been elongation of limbs, and a general abstraction. To what purpose? The artist allows an element of fantasy to enter into their scene just at the same time as the social dialog about the hierarchies created by artistic mastery and the pleasure-sacrifice axis of its enjoyment.

the artist

Nato in Canada nel 1986, Paul Kneale a ricevuto il suo MFA dalla Slade School of Fine Art (Londra) nel 2011 e dall’inizio del 2015 collabora a stretto contatto con ARTUNER.

I lavori di Kneale sono stati inclusi nella mostra Peindre la Nuit al Centre Pompidou Metz (Ottobre 2018). Alcuni dei suoi ultimi scanner paintings sono stati recentemente in mostra in occasione della mostra Contemporary Photography Forum al Boca Raton Museum (Florida, USA). Negli ultimi anni, i suoi lavori sono stati presentati alla Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, presso  Rubell Family Collection e nei prestigiosi Thetis Giardini nell’Arsenale Novissimo (Venezia), in un group show durante La Biennale di Venezia 57°. L’artista vive e lavora a  Toronto.

Kneale è interessato da come il mondo sia costantemente tradotto in un linguaggio digitale che semplifica, banalizza e de-personalizza I contenuti e le persone a cui si rivolge. L’artista esplora il modo in cui gli aspetti digitali della nostra esistenza possono manifestarsi ed essere re-immaginati nel corpo di un oggetto fisico.

L' artista ha manipolato scanner economici per generare un modo unico di dipingere. Invece di catturare un’immagine, lo scanner crea un’impressione della luce dell’ambiente all’interno dello studio dell’artista, mantenendo la traccia visiva astratta dell’atmosfera attorno alla macchina. Il processo è integrale alle sue nuove opere: gli ‘scanner painting’ sono formati da impressioni uniche e da multipli strati e striature spesso formati dal connubio fra fogli trasparenti e i colori risultanti dalle varie condizioni di luce nello studio.

Il contrasto fra tecnologie e i loro prodotti seriali risulta in quel che Kneale definisce come il ‘nuovo abietto’. In risposta al testo del 1980 di Julia Kristeva ‘Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection’, l’artista identifica un ‘nuovo abietto’ per la tecnologia d’informazione.

Descrivendo l’odierna repulsione per nuovi materiali, egli identifica uno stato di disorientamento nella cognizione del tempo e dello spazio, causata dal nostro abitare immateriale nelle nuove tecnologie.Questo sentimento si incarna in opere che spesso si riferiscono, in tecniche e modi innovativi e originali, alla simultaneità e alla stratificazione che accadono nelle nostre esistenze virtuali sempre ‘connesse’.

Kneale, in un’intervista con i-D Magazine, definisce Internet come ‘un modo tutto suo di essere nel modo’. La sua pratica mira a investigare il ruolo dell’arte in questa nuova enigmatica dimensione. Paul Kneale è un artista che esplora le possibili manifestazioni fisiche del digitale. La sua opera riflette sulle implicazioni di algoritmi e informazioni in flusso. Benché queste possano sembrare entità astratte, esse costituiscono e danno forma al nostro ambiente domestico quotidiano.

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Kneale is interested in how the world is constantly translated into a digital language which simplifies, trivialises and depersonalises content and the people it addresses. The artist explores the way in which digital facets of our existence can be manifested and reimagined in the flesh of the physical object.


Paul Kneale
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