FEATURE | ROBERT KNOKE
German-born, New York-based artist Robert Knoke is revered internationally for his atmospheric portraits that immortalise some of today’s cultural visionaries, from designers Rick Owens and Gareth Pugh to musicians Patti Smith and The Kills. BITE Magazine’s Fashion Editor, Deak Rostochili, discussed abstractions, destructions and inspirations with this multifaceted artist in Issue 03.So Robert, tell me a bit about yourself. What brought you into the art world? Stupidity? (laughs) Well, my father was an artist and I grew up being at his studio all the time, looking at his work and trying to do what he was doing. When I got older, I realized that I had continued doing the same thing. So after my sixteenth birthday or so, I told myself that art is what I want to do for the rest of my life, no matter if I make a living off of it or not. That’s it. Well, that’s what I feel about art… the art world is a different story.
How would you describe your drawings? What artistic genre do you fit into, if any? Technically my work is in-between drawing and painting and it’s about portraiture of course, although my work is not only about portraiture. I actually don’t know the genre. Because my drawing style looks fast in its gesture, some people say my work is expressionistic, but I’m certainly not an expressionist. I’m very much interested in the abstractions that surround or destroy the people I’m drawing. I think it’s a mix of all kinds of things that you can do on paper.
And what draws you to those people to want to produce their portrait? How do you choose your subjects? When I first started the series, I thought about what kind of people I wanted to draw. I didn’t want to draw family members or close friends because it made me feel uncomfortable. I don’t like to draw people that I’ve known for a very long time, but I also didn’t want to draw a stranger that I have nothing in common with. That’s the reason why I choose people mostly from cultural fields – other artists, musicians, writers and designers that I like very much. The series is a documentation of people I love and at the same time a sort of a self-portrait.
Text: Deak Rostochili
Full interview in BITE Magazine Issue 03/Navigate.
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