Upcoming Solo Exhibition — Presences:
29 August 2019 to 5 October 2019
Opening reception: Saturday 31 August, 2 - 4 pm
Gallerysmith Project Space
170 Abbotsford Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
For map & visiting details: www.gsprojectspace.com/contact
Opening times: Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11am - 5pm
Richard Knafelc, in his Presences paintings, employs liquid flows of abstract colour across human figures. His aim is to explore the nexus between the body and the soul, while suggesting the variety of our internal psychological states.
Many fundamental questions cannot be proved or disproved scientifically: Is there a God? Is there a soul or spirit, or a ‘life force’ that animates living things? Science is only beginning to investigate the basis of consciousness, thought, and feelings. Douglas Hofstadter (2008) asks: Can a self, a soul, a consciousness, an ‘I’ arise out of mere matter? If it cannot, then how can you or I be here? If it can, then how can we understand this baffling emergence?
Art can enable us to explore the zone where knowledge ends and speculation begins. Richard Knafelc made this new series of paintings with the above questions in mind.
The abstract forms in Knafelc’s paintings may suggest spiritual energy flows, as well as cellular and molecular biological processes. The dominance of the abstract patterns over the human body in the works can evoke the power of these forces and processes. The high saturation colour combinations may suggest vitality and liveliness – the exuberance and strength of the ‘life force’. The contrast of the coloured figures with the black backgrounds may evoke notions of life versus death or non-existence; complexity versus nothingness.
On another level, the abstracted paint flows can evoke our internal psychological states. These states of thought and emotion are complex, constantly changing, and are always in flux. They are also often largely invisible to others. We can never exactly know what another person is thinking or feeling when we look at their exterior. Each painting can represent a moment captured in time, which can vary for each person depicted, as well as between individuals.
Reference: Hofstadter D. (2008). I am a strange loop. Basic Books, New York.
Solo Exhibition: Visions Before Midnight
Richard Knafelc’s latest solo exhibition, Visions Before Midnight, is at Rubicon ARI and runs from 26 September to October 13. Opening hours are Wednesdays to Saturdays, 12pm to 5pm.
Rubicon ARI: Level 1, 309 Queensberry Street North Melbourne. The gallery is situated above Tongue and Groove and is entered from Cobden Street. Regretfully, there is no disabled access.
About Visions Before Midnight:
Richard Knafelc’s representational paintings in his Visions Before Midnight series explore strangeness, mystery, the unexplained, and dream-like states. He achieves this by utilising depictions of lights or stars which appear to float through highly coloured, unreal landscapes.
Knafelc is influenced by the philosopher Plato’s work The Republic. An interpretation of Plato’s writings is that in the world, physical objects we perceive with our senses are but shadows of their ideal or perfect forms. Knafelc uses this as a departure point to examine our perception of the material world and its representation, and think about what might exist beyond the physical realm.
The titles of the works reference philosophical ideas, invented personal stories, and psychological phenomenology, and add a further layer of meaning and ambiguity.
Dr Richard Knafelc is a contemporary painter living and working in Melbourne. In 2017 he completed a Master of Fine Art with Distinction at RMIT University, mentored by Dr Jan Nelson. Knafelc has been selected as a finalist in several major prizes including: the Sulman Prize, the Archibald Prize Salon des Refusés, the Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize, and the Gold Coast Art Prize.
Solo Exhibition - Stardust
Gallerysmith Project Space
16 June to 9 July 2016.
Gallerysmith Project Space
170-174 Abbotsford Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051 Richard Knafelc investigates the place of human beings in the cosmos and the transience of human existence through explorations of archeology, astronomy and the landscape. The underlying concept of his work lies in the finite versus the infinite - transience versus eternity - informed by philosophical ideas relating to cosmological and transcendental infinity, and the sublime.
Richard Knafelc is an artist based in Melbourne, where he is currently completing a Master of Fine Art at RMIT University. His history in medicine also informs his practice. He has been a finalist in numerous prizes, such as the Sir John Sulman Prize, and his work is in private collections in Australia and Europe.
See the Words page on this website for Ashley Crawford's essay on this exhibition:
"Knafelc has eschewed the mundane for the cosmic. He has charged full bore though the portal to escape the commonplace and in doing so has landed in a realm where the historical meets the futuristic - a zone akin to Stanley Kubric's 2001: A Space Odessey." - Ashley Crawford
Selection as Semi-finalist in the 2015 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize
Richard Knafelc's portrait of Ms Deborah Cheetham AO was selected in the semi-finals of the 2015 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.
Deborah Cheetham AO, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator, made her international debut in 1997 and has performed in the theatres and concert halls throughout Australia, in the UK, the US and New Zealand.
Ms Cheetham created Australia’s first Indigenous opera, Pecan Summer, which premiered in 2010. She had brought Indigenous singers from around the nation for intensive classical vocal training in preparation for this performance.The success of Pecan Summer led to the creation of Short Black Opera Company, a national not-for-profit opera company devoted to the discovery and development of Indigenous opera singers. As Artistic Director of Short Black Opera Company Deborah Cheetham has assisted many Indigenous singers to find their voice through the powerful medium of opera. Successive seasons of Pecan Summer have included performances at the Melbourne Arts Centre (Melbourne 2011), WA State Theatre Centre (Perth 2012) and Her Majesty's Theatre (Adelaide 2014).
Ms Cheetham was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia, and in 2015 she was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.
Selection in the inaugural Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize
Richard Knafelc's painting Flight into Egypt was selected for the finalist exhibition of the inaugural Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize. The exhibition ran from 2 May to 13 June 2015 at The Gallery at Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre, Brighton, Melbourne.
The title Flight into Egypt makes reference to the biblical story of Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt with the infant Jesus, to escape the murderous tyranny of King Herod. There is a long tradition of depictions of this story in art history.
In the contemporary context, this painting is intended to be more ambiguous. An adult and a child are traversing a large urban space. If they are fleeing, it is unclear from what. They might be escaping persecution or surveillance by some authoritarian regime or terrorist group. There is a reference to the misuse of power against children and the vulnerable.
The loving and intimate connection between parent and child is contrasted with malevolent social forces.
Gold Coast Art Prize 2014 Selection
Richard Knafelc's painting Mystic portals, featured in his recent solo exhibition, was selected in the finals of the 2014 Gold Coast Art Prize. The exhibition ran from 6 December 2014 to 8 February 2015 at the Gold Coast City Gallery.
The Gold Coast Art Prize was established in 1968, making it one of the longest running acquisitive art prizes in Australia.
Mystic portals, part of my Transformations series, is a painting of quotidian ATM machines comprised of two overlapping images: One has photographic negative, or ‘inverse’ colours and tones; the other has colours of a positive, or standard image. The overlapping and doubling of images lends an abstracted quality and this reflects my interest in the nexus between figuration and abstraction.
With its ironic title, this work may suggest spiritual values can be lost in the face of increasing economic materialism. The idea of portals suggests doorways into other worlds, and of course money can help realise our hopes and dreams of happiness. The glorification of these machines in this artwork, however, may serve to highlight the shortcomings of emphasising monetary values to the detriment of human values.
Sulman Prize 2014 Selection
Richard Knafelc's painting Running on empty, featured in his recent solo exhibition, was selected in the finals of the 2014 Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.
The Sir John Sulman Prize, held annually in conjunction with the Archibald and Wynne Prizes, is awarded for the best subject painting, genre painting or mural project by an Australian artist.
The finalists for the Sulman Prize may be viewed at: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/prizes/sulman/2014/
There are also links to the Archibald and Wynne Prizes on this webpage.
This painting is part of my Transformations series in which I explore tensions arising between notions of economic materialism and happiness. The title Running on empty refers to the hollowness which can ensue from extreme materialism and acquisitiveness. It also evokes the consequent dwindling of the earth’s environmental and physical resources.
An affluent suburban landscape is rendered alien by the use of bizarre and vivid colours as may be found in a photographic negative. A couple, accompanied by their desired house and car, seem oblivious to the angry orange sky, which could presage an environmental catastrophe.