s. 60 / Süddeutsche Zeitung Nr.- 243

What We Don't See Lifelong - the splendid exhibition of Hermann Kleinknecht's sightings in the City Hall Gallery
If we separate Picasso's famous statement "I don't seek, I find!" from the process of creative designing, then this striking sentence can be applied very fruitfully to the extremely contrary working methods of the picture-finder and trace-preserver Hermann Kleinknecht. Kleinknecht has produced a sculptural oeuvre of rigorous geometric precision that has proven itself in public space especially felicitously; but he has also collected an arsenal of found images, sighted peculiarities, and tracked down forms, whose diversity and expressive power is able to arouse the wider possible range of emotions. Kleinknecht, who grew up in Munich and studied at the Academy of Art there, does not intentionally go in search of lost strange forms, that await rediscovery and acknowledgement; rather, he serendipitously happens upon things, notices them where others do not perceive anything, and incidentally stumbles onto things that, as soon as they are retrieved from oblivion, begin speaking and, raised to the status of picture or item on the walls of an exhibition room, develop an extremely individualistic poetic/narrative power. They can be his own Minox snapshots from his student days, taken without any artistic intent, but now, decades later, enlarged and placed in a context; they suddenly take on a vibrating liveliness: for example, spontaneous likeness of the (soon thereafter deceased) Munich writer Florian List, taken in a tavern. But usually these found objects originate in outlandish sites and pure chance. For example, the diarykeeping American tourist's scribbled-full spiral notebook whose pages are now united in a picture panel - he found fit stuck in a hedge; the faded color slides of a couple - one, taken in the sixties in front of a billboard is of the couple itself, bat the rest all pictures of bouquets - lay on the ground beside a garbage can. Brought into a graphic rhythmic order these personal documents jettisoned by their creators invite the viewer in a disturbingly individual way to dive into secrets and to ponder. Found cheap photocopies of pictures, taken using a flashbulb, of obtrusively posing nightclub beauties from a vanished era - Kleinknecht blows them back up to life size and unites them on the long exterior wall in a kind of erotic dance of death that naturally arouses more pity than desire for the fleshly display objects and their erotically intended gymnastic exercises. A video reconstructs a tracking expedition with flashlight through the chaos of an abandoned Berlin cellar to a refrigerator in which, next to half-empty bottles, an old Hitler portrait molds away. In the exhibition, the damaged archaeological find is kept in preventive detention in a footstool-like box. Wherever Kleinknecht glances, he sees something we don't see. He photographed in detail old Berlin bricks and the mistreated walls of buildings and, in the digitally hugely enlarged reprints, made alien worlds of life visible or uncovered them by retouching. On a piece of linoleum with a busy pattern, he discovers hidden human heads that he brings to light with graphic means. The old, hand-printed fruit wallpaper in the house at the Loire that he lived in for a while also challenges him to supplementations: human figurations that seem to grow out of the background. In recent years, Kleinknecht has created a whole series of large tableaus at whose rough ground sketchily-hinted, strikingly-featured heads crowd in varying density; one seems to know many of the contoured figures, while others seem to slink away from recognizability. Here too, Kleinknecht allows himself to be tempted by what he has sighted in the material: to faces, to literally drawn faces. This principle of waiting observation and distillation is also inherent in all the portrait films that Kleinknecht made in recent years, as well as in the fascinating video display with divided monitors: across its image segments run exhibition viewers' spontaneous statements about the art business; they condense into quite an ironic tapestry of opinions. Against the backdrop of these finely pointed media and pictorial found objects, the geometrical, abstract Bronze sculptures that seem to have left everything real behind - for example, the extremely lengthened, needle-pointed cone - call for a new Interpretation. They are not form creations of the usual kind; not kneaded, chiseled, or carved sculptor's pieces, but forms selected from the existing canon of classical stereometries and then brought into a valid, beautiful form. Like hardly anyone else, Kleinknecht, as creator, thus makes visible things that theoretically could exist without him, but that, without his Imagination and assistance, would have no chance of ever being noticed. In the City Hall Gallery, these objects brought to light literally take the visitor captive. (Until November 29)
GOTTFRIED KNAPP Süddeutsche Zeitung, Oct. 22, 2007