Joe Knife

In 1921, Ernest Beaux, a French chemist and perfumer, mixed together, in a completely innovative way for that time, different natural essences, like jasmine and rose, with other synthetic ones. At that time the man did not realize the great contribution that he would have given to the world of culture and, even more, he could not imagine that, thanks to  the union of such essences, he was giving birth to a completely new fragrance and that he would have become the demiurge of an everlasting symbol. On that day Chanel No. 5 was born, nowadays a fragrance considered an icon of beauty and elegance for almost a century. It may be because of the great scope of meanings that this bottle of perfume encloses that, Joe Knife (1980), decided to represent it in a brand new way in his artworks. The technique exploited by the artist is in fact typically used in the medical field: the radiography.
Nowadays this technique is a useful medium, necessary to better analyze human bodies. When a radiographic film is exposed to X Rays, it gets impressed and, being it a carrier of a latent image, it gets then transformed into a real one. It may be for this reason  that while observing Knife’s artworks, what we feel at the beginning is a feeling of disorientation caused by the impossibility of recognition of none of human body parts. The subjects of Kinfe’s works are in fact elements taken from the pop culture and objects that we recognize as emblems of our everyday life. It is in this context that we find the most famous perfume in the world. A fabric characterized by different shades of green decorated with floral decorations is the background of the most important part of the work. The radiography of the perfume bottle of the famous brand Chanel No. 5 becomes the fulcrum of interest of the observer.

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In this use of the radiography as a medium of analysis of our reality, we recognize the intent of the artist: our attention is addressed to a gaze that is in contraposition to everything is casing of the objects. The look of the artist is a look of introspection that analyses the profound soul that moves through the ordinality space. It is for this reason that a person or a car but also an object of common use, for example a hat, is observed from an inedit point of view: we can in fact observe its inside. While admiring these works we assist to a call to arms against superficiality and appearance and, at the same time, to a declaration of intents that makes us research the beauty in the surrounding world.
Moreover, particularly interesting is the use of the monochromatic tones on the background: it always creates a suspension of the represented object, that looks lifted up in comparison to the immanent world. This one seems to be an element that is not part of the world anymore, although it definitely comes from it. What remains are the contours of something that we recognize but that we can truly observe only from this moment on. Objects and situations are transplanted into our everyday life and, as evidence of this, we can observe it in the artwork On my car, in which it would almost seem that the driver got immobilized and eternalized, while everything surrounding is canceled.
What denotes the importance of these totally ordinary elements is the attention that we give to them: the artist, thanks to his introspective gaze, investigates the beauty and looks for it in our everyday life, finding it in whatever anyone else would have given for granted. To put at the centre of interest a hat, for example, is a real poetic choice, that brings him on a reflection about the existence of things.
In addition to this total rinobilitaton of objects of common use, it is possible to notice even new reading levels. Another work, for example, shows us a cloud inserted in what seems a blue box. We are in front of an inversion of the artist’s style that proposes an exchange between what is nature and what is artifice. The cloud becomes an object and for this reason it is collocated and put in a box, a close space. The impossibility of observing the inside, through a radiography, of something completely natural like a could, makes us objective it. The artist isolates it from everything else in order to better observe and analyze it: the elimination of the alterity of the cloud is what gives the unicity of the cloud itself and what gives us the possibility to properly admire it.
There is a need, an urge, that must bring the human soul to the constant research of the beauty in everything surrounding. Joe Knife creates his artworks in the space that exists between nature and artifice, between immanence and transcendence, giving birth to deep works that have as fulcrum the interiority of the object.