For HENZEL STUDIO, Robert Knoke pulled an abstraction from his portrait of artist Bruce LaBruce, a composition consisting of a dense mass of Knoke’s fingerprints.
Robert Knoke gained worldwide recognition over the past ten years for his large-scale drawings of personalities shaping contemporary culture. He explores the genre of portraiture and its role in an era dominated by photography, redefining the genre for the 21st century. Knoke has obsessively developed an impressive body of work with a unique and vigorous signature style. His depiction of the human face and figure, neither illustrative nor defined by context, is delicate, sophisticated and elegant, and at times even dark, brutal and disturbing. Insistently working in solitude, he creates a self-imposed distance from his subjects working off of photographs he takes during first-time meetings with his subjects. In these informal settings, he carefully directs posture and facial expression with impulse, and moments later documents with a rawness that is comparable to mug shots.
Knoke refrains from capturing an emotional facet of his subjects. Instead, he seeks to capture the raw and individualistic aspect that he initially and instinctually is drawn to. In the physical drawings, the figure stays planted within a space that disregards spatial or temporal boundaries. Abstractions are at times applied with fingerprints, paint smudges, monochrome forms or gestural lines, further shaping the figure and holding it in place. Although one would think that portraiture is the main theme of Knoke’s work, he is more concerned about the actual drawing than the life-like outcome of his subjects.