The “theme and variations” structure is particularly well known in classical music, and some compositions that follow this method have been incredibly successful, such as Bach’s famous “Goldberg Variations”. It is a formal technique in which the same material is repeated in different ways. But this means of approaching the creative process is also common in art. To put just a few examples, at the end of the 19th century, Monet made a series of paintings in La Vallée de la Creuse where he explored the effect of natural light on the same landscape. This was his first planned and defined series. And during the 60s, “artists challenged the traditional reverence for the unique masterpiece and instead explored the possibilities of repetition and change. (…) The works do not present final aesthetic solutions, but rather they express a moment in the infinite multitude of possibilities”.
Dutch artist Geran Knol naturally connects with this way of seeing the world and creating. Both as an artist and as a musician, he explores repetition and variation in a conscious and intuitive way. He started his career as an illustrator, but in 2020 he started painting on canvas and from then on there was a paradigm shift. Physical matter gained more and more importance until reaching the present time. In addition to drawing and painting, he now manipulates found fabric to stitch and patchwork it into distorted patterns and collage.
The title of this solo exhibition, “Walk in Progress”, refers precisely to the idea of series and constant search. Geometric and human figures are recurrent in his work, but they are evolving. The artworks exhibited here explore lines and grids on which a human figure stands out, always looking sideways and alone. In fact, from the narrative or even emotional point of view, the isolated figures, with no defined features and a certain melancholic air, seem to explore a chosen or imposed state of solitude. But Knol also likes his work to highlight his naïve signature, which softens what we see. And indeed, there is something poetic about this mix of humor, nostalgia, and innocence.
In addition to reproducing the same figures numerous times, Knol is interested in establishing a set of rules or limitations to later connect with the creative freedom within that structure. Sometimes the size of the fabric works as a limit, or the rule is to follow a certain geometric pattern. As David Hockney, one of the painters who has influenced him the most, said: “You’ve got to plan to be spontaneous”. In a way, Knol’s work functions with dichotomies: variation and repetition, flatness and depth, limits and spontaneity. Looking at “An Outside Scene” and “A Bigger Outside Scene” (whose titles are actually inspired by two works by Hockney) one can truly understand the meaning of this search and experience how subtle variations can convey similar yet distinct emotions.
 “Variations on a Theme”. The USC Fisher Museum of Art. (2015). https://fisher.usc.edu/2015/06/09/variations-on-a-theme/
 Wollheim, B. (2009). “David Hockney: A Bigger Picture”. Coluga Pictures.