Germany, New York, and soon the world, will be taken over with images produced by artist Robert Knoke. His series of portraits showcasing subjects from cultural figures to fashion icons are the hook in his drawings. Coming from a home of artist which include his father and grandfather Knoke knew what he would be when he grew up very early in life.
Working from photos, Knoke weapon of choice is a ballpoint pen and fat markers used by graffiti artist to create his powerful ink portraits. Looking at his work you can get a bold sense of strength with a hint of mystery top off with an almost ominous feeling as he portrays people like Patti Smith, to Rick Owens and Jamie Hince of The Kills.
Knoke’s work as a painter has brought him down the pathway as video installations, photo collage and performance stuff but the portraits came about on a lark beginning in 1991. Since then he has decided to just work on portraits developing into different segments such as music video which became a “moving portrait” of friend DJ and musician Spencer Product.
His process is quite simple, he meets with the person first and takes their photo, and that is the first step to all of his work. He then sits alone because it irritates me when someone sits in front of me, hence the photos. Then he begins to draw*that’s it so simple i can do that gimme a sec-can you hear my sarcastic tone* and it’s not about the person anymore, it’s about “me my markers and a paper,” he says. His focus is no longer about the world but he fixation the lines, strokes, fingerprints and smudges he leaves to accentuate the image. He says simply it either happens or it doesn’t.
The energy of the person that has been chosen, or has chosen, to have a moment frozen in time, is all that concerns Knoke. He envisions himself in them, and in the end believes he ends up painting himself literally. This rogue artist says, “I don’t care” when asked of the importance of subjects seeing themselves in his portraits or liking it. He is interested in only the surface. His focus is their personal style, clothing, hair, and mannerisms, all external, but every bit apart of what makes them who they are. When he has captured the makeup up of his subject, he deluges each of their many facets onto his canvas capturing a person in their entirety. In the end it’s all about him.
Robert Knoke’s latest project is collaborating with 3 deep designs to create an art book called Project 00-Black Material. It is a collaboration of artist and their artwork which will be featured in the New Museum, located in New York this September.
p.s check out this video TRIANGLE is a video work done for the book ‘Black Material’ which showcases Robert Knoke’s artwork, exploiting his use of black and white. Its magical. Just click on the word Triangle below.