The Visual Worlds of Mathias Kniepeiss

Impressively colourful, provocative, tongue-in-cheek, glamorous, opulent, garish and intimate at the same time, the idiosyncratic work of photographic artist and storyteller Mathias Kniepeiss takes the viewer on journeys through time and into whimsical worlds.

In his sublimely exaggerated photo series, he uses photography to try to eliminate the boundaries between reality and illusion and to capture and record life in all of its sensuality. He succeeds in doing this in real locations ,where he gathers a team of actors, make-up artists, costume designers and set designers to recreate hyper-real settings in which every last detail has been researched and prepared meticulously in advance – a time-consuming process.

In his images, historical quotations are staged just as grandly as powerfully imagined visions. He switches between genres with ease, putting flawlessly androgynous bodies or boldly presented eroticism on full display.

Mathias Kniepeiss manages to create a unique tension in his stagings, and he exudes a dynamism that transforms the viewer into a voyeur and gives them the feeling that they are a part of the show; they find themselves witnessing an orgy in a courtly rococo setting or discovering facets of Venetian history.

He makes perfect use of light and shadow, of movement and stillness, and his handling of colour and composition actually is more akin to painting in the style of the old masters of art history, but instead of a palette and brush, he uses digital tools to create new, original images.

Mathias Kniepeiss skilfully plays with emotions, associations and stories. He conjures up the past and the bizarre in snapshots using contemporary photography. One is tempted to exclaim: “This show must go on!” And we certainly hope that it will continue for a long time to come. There are still so many unique stories waiting to be told by him as he draws on the vast reservoir of his imagination.

Rococo series

This project was realised in 2013 with a team of 6 people and 8 actors in the south of Austria. The preparation and planning of the series took 6 months. In an original rococo castle, 4 so-called one-shot productions were created in one day.

Rococo is a mixture of modern photography, live performance and digital painting. The interpretation presented is based on extensive research into the period, with the intention of reflecting our present in the past and the past in our present.

To achieve this we use the body language of our models, overall composition of the group, color psychology, made to measure costumes, lavish set designs, real locations, accessories accurate in every detail, modern postproduction and finally, make use of special printing-processes.

  • limited edition of 8 prints per artwork (+1 artist’s proofs per artwork)
  • overall 36 artworks
  • signed
  • 2 sizes – 100 x 56 cm & 160 x 90 cm
  • printed on canvas
  • wooden frame construction
  • mounted Vintage frame


2015 – CIDPAE – China International digital photography art award – gold
2015 – PX3 Paris – Silver Award category Portrait
2014 – Art Basel Miami – young artist of the year award

Behind the Scenes

1. Reconstruction as interpretation (research)

The respective periods are studied in detail in collaboration with a selected team of experts.
Original locations, custom-made historical costumes, accessories and every detail are precisely worked out
and organised for the contemporary staging.

2. Making history tangible (sketching)

Based on the existing backgrounds, the number of actors, the planned choreography and the staging,
sketches are created incorporating various image composition rules.

3. Focus on the human being (performance)

Using innovative photography and lighting, ‘one-shot stagings’ are created.
Elements such as the actors’ body language and gaze are rehearsed with each actor individually
and implemented under guidance and direction with everyone present.

4. The final touch (digital painting)

The post-processing of the works is an important part of the process and takes quite some time.
The colour intensity, contrasts and much more are tailored to the subject
and digitally painted over with the help of graphic tablets and pressure-sensitive pens.

5. Print becomes communication (printing process)

State-of-the-art printing processes are used for the canvas prints.
The impact of the artwork is heightened by the intense colours and the depth these create,
as well as by the finely grained surface.

6. The frame enhance the work of art (framing)

The frame serves as a stage for the image and thus puts the content in the foreground.
It is the spatial separation from its surroundings that optimally sets the scene for the work of art as a whole.

special thanks to the participating artists

costumes: Bettina Dreißger
styling: Ulrike Dominco & Susanne Malik
research: Klaus Koiner
postproduction: Philipp Schulz
assistents: Tobias Lange
location: Rococo Castle Stainz
models: Anita Zotter, Stefan Gostischa, Karin Wolf, Gerhard Angerer,
Uschi Binder, Fred Wallisch, Bettina Dreißger & Klaus Koiner

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