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Jan Valentin Sæther | Untitled essay on the drawings of Karl Gnass

The drawings of Karl Gnass appear at first to be virtuoso sketches done in surroundings with many drafts-men/women seated around model stands. Thin lines, fat lines, zigzags, squiggles and tips of pencils sharpened like chisels skating over the page in rapid strokes catching the fleeting moments of the model before he or she descends into pain and loses the apparent easiness of the gesture. But something other than virtuosity, something other than skill resides in these drawings. I perceive in them a kind of abandon, a complete lack of finish. I would say it is a kind of redeeming ugliness and a pursuit of an excellence that inquires rather than renders. They are investigations of objects moving in space rather than objects invested with vanity and seduction.


Karl Gnass puts seeing before rendering. His eyes are in command and his hand performs whatever gestures are required – simultaneously. So it seems. He has drawn for so long and with such ferocity and has mastered the discipline of drawing to such an extent that his grasp of the pictorial language allows him to balance on the brink of chaos. I have seen him draw and it is not like the possessed Paganini (Whom I have not seen of course) playing his fiddle. Gnass is at ease, calm and intent.


This sketchbook is a testimony to the love of process over results.


Jan Valentin Saether

Fine Artist and Professor Emeritus


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