My name is Manuela Karin Knaut, I am 50 years old and currently living in Braunschweig, Germany. I was born in a small town in the middle of Germany and for as long as I can remember I have wanted to travel and explore different countries and cultures. Today I am happy to be able to share this passion with my family and our dog Mbali, who we adopted from a shelter in South Africa a couple of years back.
PIECE WITH ARTIST
MARCH 03, 2021. BRAUNSCHWEIG, GERMANY.
Tell us your story, how did you come to painting?
I have been making art for as long as I can remember. It started out with sketches and small canvases in my childhood bedroom, but I soon discovered my passion for large scale canvases and paintings. Over the course of my career I have explored various different genres of art such as installation art and photography, but there is something very special about capturing art in the form of a painting, which is why I always circle back to it. I love the ability to express feelings through paintings and it allows an exploration of different colors and materials which I find very interesting and inspiring.
How would you define your current painting?
My current paintings feature various different elements such as street art, abstract schemes and modern colors. I have recently started to incorporate playful and witty text passages in my paintings and love to include graffiti colors as well as ink and crayons in my art. However, it is difficult to pin down a definition of my painting style since my art style is constantly evolving and changing. I believe that art is a constant, everchanging process. It is influenced by different factors, such as my current place of residence or the people I meet in my life.
Tell us about your style and technique. Any secret that can be told?
My style varies from street art to modern and abstract art, it includes gestures and various shapes, but never perfect circles or geometrical accuracy. I like to work with text passages and word plays in my paintings. Regarding my technique, I have different and individual approaches for each work. One thing that most of my works have in common is that I always like to layer paints over each other, because it adds an interesting texture to the canvas.
At the same time I have recently explored a more minimalistic approach- it really depends on what I am trying to express. I like to work with acrylic paint, crayons, spray paint, ink, do silk-screen printing- I love to constantly try out new methods and ways of creation, it is what makes the creative process so inspiring!
How do you usually start your paintings? With a sketch, a draft or is it just an improvisation?
I would say that most of my works contain a similar type of accelerated, intuitive energy. I gain inspiration from a song lyric, a phrase out of magazine, something I heard in a podcast, an artist I saw online. I never plan an artwork in every detail, it is often a quite spontaneous and improvisational process. I often start various paintings at once, then hang them up to dry and circle back to them a couple of days later. It is never only one painting I am working on at once.
What are your motivation forces? And the artists who have been and are an influence for you?
The installation art scene and its theoretical background are a big inspiration for me; some examples of artists working in this direction whose work I admire would be Gregor Schneider and Rosemarie Trockel. Apart from this I love to follow university exhibitions and art students, young artists in general and not limited to painting, art fairs and biennales are obviously always very interesting. But my main inspiration stems from everyday life.
I am inspired by everyday encounters made in the public sphere, whether while travelling in a new country or in my own neighbourhood. Many of these interactions, which society sometimes tells us to take for granted, often turn out to be the most enlightening and humbling. By directing my attention outside of myself, I am quickly challenged to try and understand what it feels like in someone else’s shoes. I can’t think of a better lesson for an artist.
What can you tell us about your studio, what kind of place is it?
My studio is place full of everything I need to fulfill my visions as an artist. It features a large rack full of spray cans, drawers over drawers filled with pencils, paint, crayons, ink, cutters, papers, I own a big printing press. A lot of space is also occupied with all the things I have collected. Whether that is old plush toys, LED-lights, photographs, diaries I found on a flea market and even old furniture- I consider myself a collector of things!
Obviously I also have a room dedicated as a storage for my works, because as I have previously mentioned, I always work on more than one piece at a time and circle back to works days, weeks, months and sometimes years after I started them. Oh, and I can´t forget about my mini fridge and dishwasher! My studio is a place I spend a lot of time in working, but at the same time I consider it a space of connection. I often have friends and clients visiting and I have hosted many get-togethers and creative collaborations.
What is art for you?
Art for me is a way of expressing emotions and making sense of the world and human nature. Art is inspiring, humbling and in the best case, it leaves you feeling astonished for days. Art can be planned or improvisational, mapped out or completely accidental. Art means cinematography, photography, installation art, street art, performance art, painting, drawing, it means colours and black and white, conflict and peace. It can be confusing and disturbing, enlightening and beautiful. The greatest thing for me personally is that there are no rules to the creative process and that art brings people together and creates a special kind of human connection.