Silke Otto-Knapp, Stage (after Kurt Schwitters), 2017 Watercolor on canvas, 5 panels. Panel Dimensions, each: 68 x 47 x 1 in.
Silke Otto-Knapp, Schattentheater (Chalk circles), 2017 Watercolor on canvas, 5 panels. Panel Dimensions, each: 69 x 47 1/4 x 1 in.

Silke Otto Knapp


Silke Otto-Knapp was born in Osnabrück, Germany in 1970. She earned a M.A. from Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, and a degree in Cultural Studies from the University of Hildesheim, Germany. Otto-Knapp is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the University of California, Los Angeles. Known for her crepuscular landscapes and figurative tableaux that engage with the history of painting, Otto-Knapp’s signature style employs subtle washes of watercolor, slowly built up layer by layer on the surface of the canvas to create form. Each carefully constructed composition embodies distinct temporalities and moods evoked through a juxtaposition of flatness and luminosity achieved through painterly chroma and surface texture. Drawing inspiration from a myriad of sources and subject matter including historical figures, landscapes, seascapes, poetry, modern dance choreography, and theatre design, her work engages both abstraction and representation, simultaneously evoking and erasing form on the picture plane.

Selected solo exhibitions include Bühnenbilder, Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2017); Land Lies in Water, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2015); Monday or Tuesday, Camden Arts Centre, London (2014); Cold Climate, Museo Marino Marini, Florence (2014); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2014); Fogo Island Arts, Canada (2014); Geography and Plays, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2013); A light in the moon / MATRIX 239, Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley (2011); Many many women, Kunstverein München, Munich (2010); Present time exercise, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford (2009); and 50ft Queenie, Tate Britain, London (2005). In 2018 the Liverpool Biennial commissioned her to produce a new large-scale work for the fourth-floor gallery of Bluecoat. Like a classic frieze, the painting wrapped around the perimeters of the space, combining figures in group formations with abstract panels. Otto-Knapp has been awarded the Fogo Island Arts Artist in Residence (2014, 2010-2012). Her work is included in the permanent collections of museum worldwide, such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Serralves Foundation, Porto; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; among others. She lives and works in Los Angeles.