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Dutch artist finds local connections mirrored in his latest works

Eric Knoote is a Dutch artist whose installation opens Downtown Saturday at the original Jack's Food Store No. 1.
"The three-dimensional work is something of the last two years."
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Fredric Koeppel
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June 29, 2007

Dutch artist Eric Knoote ("k'NOTE-uh") has had a Memphis connection for more than a decade.

In 1996, he was part of an exhibition of eight Dutch artists at Marshall Arts, in collaboration with Delta Axis, followed by a similar show at Marshall Arts in 2001. In 2003, Knoote returned the favor by organizing a show for six or seven artists from Memphis at MP40, an exhibition space he runs in Amsterdam. In 2005, Knoote was back in Memphis as part of a three-person show at Second Floor Contemporary. Next year, he will host another exhibition in Amsterdam for artists from Memphis.

So it's not unusual that Knoote was invited to participate with Lantana Projects in a monthlong residency here to create an artwork, nor that he accepted the offer. The installation, "From the Underground Up," opens Saturday with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. in what used to be the basement of the original Jack's Food Store No. 1 at North Main and Jefferson. The building, which Janice and Pinkney Herbert bought in 2002, was damaged by the windstorm of July 22, 2003, and then burned on Dec. 21 that year.

Knoote is 54 and lives in Amsterdam. He'll be in Memphis through July 9, when he'll go to New York to meet his wife for two weeks of travel in New England. They'll return to Amsterdam at the end of July.

Q: When you were in the exhibition at Second Floor two years ago, you were showing small, abstract watercolor pieces, very delicate and charming. How did those fit into your other body of work?

A: Usually the drawings are sketches for paintings. I am mainly a painter, I work on aluminum. The sketches are new ideas for paintings, but they are more free than my paintings.

Q: And is the three-dimensional work a tradition with you?

A: The three-dimensional work is something of the last two years. You know a lot of artists have side jobs to make money for living. My side job is that I do photography of contemporary jewelry. Somehow after doing a lot of photos of jewelry I got the idea to do three-dimensional work. I'm not a sculptor. I use simple materials like mirrors you can buy at Home Depot or zinc buckets, ready-made materials. They are usually wall pieces.

Q: So the piece Downtown is related to ready-made materials and simple forms?

A: Yes, this piece is made from 14 mirror pieces. Each object consists of five mirrors, one in the center and the other four around it.

Q: And they look a little like flowers.

A: Yes, well, I have to explain that it looks like a flower, but it's more of an abstract sign. It reflects the street, the people and more important, it reflects sunlight. It's a very wide reflection. And the site is very interesting.

Q: You've been in Memphis about three weeks now and working in a studio at Marshall Arts?

A: Yes, about three and a half weeks. I'm drawing as well as using pastel and watercolor. I'll show the work in the studio on July 6.

Q: Has Memphis influenced the work you've been doing?

A: Oh, yes, it could not help it. Memphis is absolutely an influence. Life is so different here from Amsterdam. It's very special here, but the climate is like a warm blanket; I'm not used to it. And there are some very nice artists here. They do good work, and they're very friendly.

Visit to see more of the artist's work.

-- Fredric Koeppel: 529-2376

About Fredric Koeppel
Fredric Koeppel eats too much, tastes a lot of wine and listens to lots of classical music, which altogether doesn't give him enough time to read. He and his wife have two cats, two dogs and (sacre bleu!) a new grandchild. Brought to Memphis at the age of 10, Koeppel has lived here most of his life. He taught college English and creative writing before, like the seventh son in a fairy tale, turning into a journalist. He can be reached at 901-529-2376 or by e-mail.