Julije Knifer

The meander is a form of my freedom

May 23 - July 31, 2015

galerie frank elbaz, Paris

The meander is a form of my freedom, exhibition view, galerie frank elbaz, Paris, 2015

Julije Knifer has been repeating throughout his life the same pattern, the meander. Between 1959 and 1960 he defined the basic elements of his works by reducing his pictorial means almost exclusively to black and white and to vertical and horizontal, in the form of the meander. The first Meanders occur in the 1959/60 period, as an expression of extreme reduction, aspiring to create anti-paintings and the aura of contemplation. For Knifer the meander is not a decoration or aesthetics, for him it is a sequence of acts that make a meander or a series of meanders which, in the end, make just one meander.

The exhibition displays representative examples of the creative output of more than four decades of his work, from the early 60s to 2004. For every decade, a representative painting as well as sketches, preparatory drawings and the finished drawings will show how Knifer changed the way he painted and made drawings over time. Although he extremely reduced its visual language, in this limited framework, he showed a remarkable ingenuity succeeding to never repeat the identical form. He said it best himself: “The meander is a form of my freedom.”

Born in Osijek, Croatia in 1924, Knifer died in Paris in 2004 after a career embracing Croatia, Germany, Italy and France. He represented Yugoslavia in 1976 and Croatia in 2001 at the Venice Biennale. A full retrospective of his work has been organized in 2014 by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb. He has participated in major exhibitions all over the world and his works are displayed in private and public collections including MoMA, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; MAMCO, Geneva; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; etc.