Karla Knight’s art is an impressive example of contemporary art, similarly primitive in its form and deeply metaphorical in its meaning. Her Spaceship Drawings that are created on a unique blend of ledger and journal paper exhibited in Andrew Edlin Gallery strike with their abundance of symbols that look both familiar and alien. Knight’s work is displayed alongside three other fantastic artists that include Paulina Peavy, Esther Pearl Watson, and Ionel Talpazan, and the group show is titled “April 14th, 1561.”
While looking at Knight’s works, the first impulse is to examine them closely and try to decipher the metaphorical language that the artist uses. This, however, is a trap for the true intention of the artist, as I see it, is to impress rather than inform, affect rather than persuade. In this respect, Knight’s works are too schematic to possess a single interpretation. Each viewer perceives them through the lens of their own experience and mood. Thus, for instance, while looking at Yaddo Spaceship #1, somebody might focus on the burst of rich juicy colors; others might concentrate on futuristic symbols that overload the canvas (Yaddo Spaceships, 2018). In other words, Knight’s art is intuitive in its nature.
The best way to explore it is to release oneself from all the rational frameworks and give in to natural emotions and associations. In other words, Knight’s art is too sensitive to be perceived through cognition. To an extent, her art gets us back to the very first stages of art development when forms were primitive and messages – straightforward. What is particularly valuable about Knight’s art is that it can be both minimalistic (e.g. Spaceship #98) and rich in content (e.g. Spaceship Drawing #1032). The latter type has its unique naïve charm. Thus, for instance, while looking at Plasma Whiplash, one cannot help smiling at the touching childishness with which Knight approaches her composition. Such works feature an exclusive blend of typical children paintings and surrealistic dreams that each of us have had.
In this respect, one is sure to recognize the reference to Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” in terms of color and Dali’s “The Ram” in terms of forms (Spaceship Drawing #1032, 2018). In contrast to them, however, Knight’s art is more delicate and less pressing than the works of classic impressionists. This is why Knight’s art is only seemingly simple for interpretation. In effect, she uses a very complicated language of dreams, allusions, and imagination. In this respect, her art is very sincere and honest; she exposes her subconscious-self as it is without decorating or garnishing it. This straightforwardness with which Knights speaks to the viewer is a very rare and thus precious phenomenon in contemporary art.
Finally, it would be unfair to overlook the great emphasis that Knight places on the themes of antiquity and futurism in her works. This is inexplicable how the artist manages to create a mix of ancient and modern ages in one and the same work. The colors of her works often resemble the colors and patterns of the Incan textile. What makes Knight’s works unique is that this textile is presented amidst the elements of spaceships and alien culture as it can be seen in Yaddo Spaceships. This blend of different ages and cultures reveals the rich and elaborate artistic perception that Knights possesses. Behind simple, almost primitive forms and symbols that the artist uses, the viewer easily recognizes rich and intelligent individuality.
Overall, Knight’s exhibition in Andrew Edlin Gallery is a splendid opportunity to get acquainted with contemporary art and discover a highly individual and authentic artist whose honesty and charm cannot leave the viewer indifferent. In my opinion, Knight’s art is the art in its traditional sense: this art affects the viewer at the sensual level, surprising, amusing, and even irritating them. This art is the illustration of our common dreams, fantasies, and concerns.