James de Knoop

“There is a mood I personally pick up from a space, a scene, when I am there. This could be the source.”

James de Knoop is a finder of human wildernesses in the urban landscape. Those spaces shaped by the human developer and then seemingly abandoned by being out of sight and hence out of mind.

The artist ventures into our urban underbelly to seek the dark, evolving beauty in its secret spaces. He is a National Geographer of the hidden, banal, service alleys and often places himself in risky situations to get his source photography. These sources are then scrutinized in the process of painting, providing curious scenes of looking either outwards from an incomprehensible inner space, or inwards to a mysterious other world of our own.

Schooled in the artisanal trade of hand-painted signs, de Knoop has been painting on canvas for the past three years, developing his finer points of mark making under the tutelage of Julia Teale at Spencer Street Studios. His interest in the negative, the invisible spaces, proves to be the fundamental shift in his move from painting visible signage for the market to a fascination with the overlooked views “just over the fence” from mainstream life.

The artist says, “I am stalking around in the archaeology of present, knowing that it will exist in the future in a different context. Now and then we glimpse an opening, a profound thought, a dream, as real as our inconclusive world.” He references these concepts in a series of paintings, which he refers to as ‘Notes to the Future’

Selected Projects & Exhibitions:

2014 – I Cannot Prove That You Exist at Rust en Vrede Gallery, Cape Town.

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