Born in 1960's Amsterdam, Antoon Knaap grew up in tumultuous times. The cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s made Amsterdam the magical centre of Europe. Following a career in finance, he moved to Ireland early 1990's where he started his own business and became an avid woodworker. In the aftermath of the economic crisis he moved to Spain, where helped by the sun he rediscovered his love for painting. End 2014 he returned to Ireland. Guess the rain was more appealing than the sun....
Currently based in Maynooth, in the Republic of Ireland, Antoon Knaap is a visual artist who makes figurative art from the head and abstract art from the heart. Over the years his figurative and abstract work has increasingly been bleeding into each other, leaving us with an expectation of things to come. Interpolating and blending the lines from his historical figurative work and his abstract geometric leads us towards a future of more conceptual abstract while historical. Time will tell.
Working with acrylic paint embellished with spray paint, Knaap visually expresses encounters between past events and the moment they are translated to the canvas. He often uses geometrical shapes that include circles, rectangles and others to represent channels for understanding the past, the experience of suffering or joy, and the feelings of the heart. His vibrant colours create modern icons that connect the visible world with those of time dimensions gone by. Knaap’s work can be found hanging in the Kildare Gallery, on the railings of Dublin’s Merrion Square on any given Sunday as well as the homes of private collectors internationally. His work has been featured in countless local publications in print and online.
The beauty, ugliness and wonder of our history is a continuous inspiration. My spirituality is one of contemplation and quietude, I don’t shout from rooftops, but I channel my emotions and opinions on paintable surfaces. I also find inspiration for myself and my artwork in reading and like to work on multiple paintings at any one time. I am also constantly in the middle of a few books and I especially love the work of Philip Pullman who with subtle slits has opened my mind to many universes I knew existed but could never visualise through lack of imagination.
The world has an invisible side that beckons all of us, that is why people study theology, quantum physics, contemplative prayer, the multi-verse and all the other far reaches of the human mind. I am seeking a contemporary interpretation of the past by reprocessing images and emotions, interpreting them through a personalised process of painting with acrylic paint. My painting work is conceptual reality and focused on periods of human victory, tragedy and temporal spiritual absence. I am basically searching for what makes people do what they do. Logically I can understand the past, but am still left with a desire to understand how it all came about.
My paintings have many facets and each part is an important symbol for something else, contemporary icons presented as meditative images for contemplation of the past, attempting to make the unknowable, knowable. Historically, I draw influence from artists like Jan Dibbet, Sol Lewitt, Lawrence Weiner, Pablo Picasso, Jan Matejko and Francisco Goya and many others. All of them artists with differing styles and from different periods but each of these people create visual experiences that explained either their present or their past. Currently I receive flares of inspiration from a range of young artists who publish their journey on social media, like Elinor Shapiro's storyboard-like paintings, Kevin Lowery's atmospheric seascapes and Karen Hickey's colourful portraits.
Growing up in a working-class family my future wasn’t to be an artist for a profession. It took an economic crisis to have me throw down the virtual shackles and now I continue to create in the very best part of my life and work and it is my pleasure to share my creations with the world.