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

Born in 1986 in Canada, Paul Kneale received his MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art (London) in 2011 and has been working closely with ARTUNER since early 2015. Work by Kneale have been included in the exhibition Peindre la Nuit at Centre Pompidou Metz (October 2018), Contemporary Photography Forum exhibition of the Boca Raton Museum (Florida, USA), the Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, the Rubell Family Collection and at the prestigious Thetis Gardens in the Arsenale Novissimo (Venice), in a group exhibition on view during La Biennale di Venezia 57°. He lives and works in Toronto.

Paul 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. The artist has been manipulating cheap scanners to generate a unique way of painting. Rather than capturing an image, the scanner creates an impression of the ambient light within the artist’s studio, bearing the abstract visual trace of the atmosphere surrounding the machine. The process is integral to his new works: the scanner paintings are built up from unique impressions and display multiple layers and striations often between transparent sheets and the colours resulting from varying light conditions in the artist’s studio.

The contrast between machines and their serial products results in what Paul Kneale defines as the “new abject”. In response to Julia Kristeva’s 1980 text ‘Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection’, the artist identifies a “new abject” for the information technology. Describing today’s inherent revulsion for brand new materials, he pinpoints a disorientation in the consciousness of time and location, caused by our immaterial inhabitation of new technologies. This sentiment is embodied in works which often address, in original and innovative ways and media, the simultaneity and layering occurring in our ever-linked virtual existences. Kneale, in an interview with i-D, defines the Internet as ‘a whole way of being in the world’. His practice aims at investigating the role of art in this new enigmatic dimension. Paul Kneale is an artist that explores the possible physical manifestations of the digital. His oeuvre reflects on the implications of algorithms and information flux. While these may seem very abstract entities, they constitute and shape our domestic daily environment. To follow Paul Kneale and receive exclusive updates, click here.

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
on Artuner

Part of the

August 24th, 2016 until
September 15th, 2016
Curated by ARTUNER