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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.

Faces of Venice series

Limited edition of 4 prints per painting
(+2 artist’s proofs)

Total of 48 pieces

Labelled on reverse

2 sizes
90 x 60 cm & 150 x 100 cm

Printed on canvas

Mounted baroque frame

Contemporary Stagings

With his works, Mathias Kniepeiss is creating a completely new kind of “art photography”.

Historical themes are analysed and condensed into a singular moment. The forms and symbols of our time are reflected in people’s behaviour and faces, though the focus is not on the past, but on the present and the future. What can we learn from the past?

How does a particular era help us to understand what is happening and how it will affect the future?

What we perceive depends on what we have been taught to perceive. It is not just about depicting something, but about creating images that evoke meaning.

Looking at Mathias Kniepeiss paintings can help us to see more, and to see differently.

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 & partners

costumes: Bettina Dreißger & Alessio Benetti
styling: Margit Salmhofer
assistents: Philipp Schulz
behind the scenes video: Lauren Klocker
behind the scenes photos: Susanne Hassler-Smith
location: Ca´Sagredo Hotel
models: Bettina Dreißger, Klaus Koiner, Philipp Schulz, Lauren Klocker,
Conny Aitzetmüller, Margit Salmhofer, Susanne Hassler-Smith