Memory + Bio + Memoir – Artist Shane Kneipp
By Shane Kneipp
Artist Shane Kneipp was born in late 1959 in Texas Queensland. Anyone inclined to start driveling on about star signs would be well advised to fucking knock it off.
Shane’s family lived in various towns in western Queensland before moving east when Shane was about ten. A couple of years later the family moved to the city of Redcliffe, a town described variously as “Inala by the sea” and “Satre on a bicycle”.
Throughout this Shane had undergone a programme of repression and intimidation under the auspices of the Catholic Church, a process that imbued him with a deep pathological hatred of organised religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular.
In grade 11, jack of said shit, Shane dropped out of school. (Something that became an on-going trend.) Shane began his working life with the Bank of New South Wales on the 11th November, 1975, the day that Gough was fired, an evil omen if ever there was one.
After working in first the Margate branch of the bank and then the Redcliffe branch, Shane was transferred to the western town of Aramac. If you have ever seen Wake In Fright, that film pretty accurately describes the experience.
It was at about this point that Shane came to the realisation that spending the next 50 years working for a giant soulless corporation that didn’t give a flying fuck about him was pretty damn stupid. So, eschewing both the bank and the west, Shane came back east, with a vague idea that maybe he’d like to be an artist.
He has been poor ever since.
Accordingly in 1978 Shane enrolled at the Queensland College of Art at Morningside.
It didn’t take.
Having dropped out of school and then the bank Shane essentially saw art college on much the same level of relevance.
His one regret is that he would have been able to study printmaking techniques, but alas, at the time printmaking simply wasn’t on his radar.
The main everlasting positive result from art college was that it was here that Shane met his best friend and long-time collaborator Daryl Graham.
What first drew Daryl and Shane together was a mutual fondness for marijuana, but shortly afterwards Daryl showed Shane a book on Surrealism which struck a chord. (The marijuana helped.)
Thereafter Daryl and Shane spent many a happy evening together, drinking beer and wine, smoking pot, drawing, listening to punk and new wave and discovering the music of the Residents. There were also major moments of weirdness such as the night when, around midnight, the light-bulb in the room they were in was suddenly engulfed by a huge swarm of bees from the hive in the garden of the house.
In 1982 artist Jeanelle Hurst kindly offered Daryl and Shane a joint show at One Flat, the gallery she ran with Russell Lake and others. This was the first show for both men and was done under the name of Dgraskne.
Many assumed Dgraskne to be a deep and meaningful concept, but it was in reality merely a name, formed by combining both men’s dole office computer short names.
That same year Daryl and Shane participated in a series of performance evenings at Metro Arts with the participation of Shane’s brother Tony Kneipp, well known local punk Peter McGrath (aka V2) and with the technical help of another close friend, Geoffrey Buttfield. This was done under the name of Dgraskne Fuckpig, although given the fascistic nature of Bjelke-Peterson’s Queensland at the time, the word Fuckpig was not employed on the posters for the event.
In 1985 Shane Kneipp had work in an exhibition of Brisbane artists in Watters Gallery in Sydney and exhibited a work in the exhibition Queensland Works 1950-1985 at the University of Queensland Art Gallery.
In 1986 Shane Kneipp had his first solo show at That Contemporary Art Space, Waxing Cancerous.
The show was formally opened by the Ghost Who Walks, aka John Henderson, President of the Phantom Fan Club. He did a fabulous job.
The evening was a roaring success on every level other than financial.
The same year Shane Kneipp contributed work to the show That First Birthday.
In 1987 Shane Kneipp participated in a show at That Contemporary Art Space, Local Colour, a show curated by the magnificent Dale Chapman.
In the same year Shane Kneipp created an installation at Michael Milburn Gallery, Hey Martha!, a
work based on Shane Kneipp’s favourite reading matter at the time, the National Enquirer, a publication which could perhaps be best described as Donald Trump on really bad LSD.
Shane devoted considerable time and effort to the installation and it was on the whole well received and generously reviewed.
There was however one major problem.
Both Shane and Michael Milburn totally neglected to have photos taken of the installation, so that now it merely remains a beautiful memory.
Such is life, as Ned Kelly said just before they necked him.
In 1989 Shane Kneipp had his second show at Milburn+Artė, lies, damn lies and plain untruths. Again, it was well received, other than by people’s resolute refusal to by anything, with the exception of the superb sculptor, Les Dorahy.
The same year Shane had a piece shown in the show Visual Poetics, a fantastic show of panoramic scope curated by the late and greatly lamented Professor Nicholas Zurbrugg, (otherwise known as, ‘Who was that naked man in our sandpit?’ It’s a long story.).
Shane Kneipp had two solo shows at Space Plenitude, Stone Free in 1991, an exhibition of offset lithographs, (the opening of which was deservedly dominated by a friend, Jane, who wore a juvenile fruitbat on her lapel) and in 1993 Lino Cuts Like Greasy Butter, an exhibition of lino prints. Shane also participated in group shows in other artist-runs spaces such as Omniscient Gallery and bARTleme Galleries.
In 1990 Shane Kneipp also had several works in the show Kapow! in Noosa Regional Gallery.
Around the middle 1990’s Shane Kneipp mostly dropped out of the art scene.
One of the major motivating factors was what he saw as the overwhelming predominance of French critical theory, which he essentially saw as intellectually bankrupt blag.
Having said that Shane Kneipp is keen that this is not seen as a blanket condemnation of French post-modernists, merely French post-modernist art and cultural theorists, whom he sees as writeres who in the immortal words of William Blake, ‘conspired to Depress Art’.
Shane Kneipp’s post-modernist French hero is Georges Perec, author of one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, Life, A User’s Manual (La vie, mode d’emploi). Perec has a Brisbane connection, in 1982, the year of his untimely death he was writer in residence in the French department of the University of Queensland.
Despite generally dropping out of the art scene Shane Kneipp continued creating art, int paticular linocuts, a medium of which he had become greatly enamoured.
In 2000 Shane Kneipp had his last solo show, RHINO (Really Here In Name Only) at Double Helix in Fortitude Valley through the kind help of his good friend Brian Menzies.
In 2001 Shane Kneipp did a course in graphic design at Southbank TAFE at Morningside, mostly out of a desire to improve his computer design skills.
In 2002 Shane Kneipp became the father of Lillian Maeve Irvine, although her mother Cynthia Irvine insisted on much of the glory, merely because she was the one who had the 9 months pregnancy followed by the emergency Caesarian. Women!
Shane then spent the next several years as a house-husband while Cynthia was the main breadwinner. This was on the whole magical although there is a definite limit on how much you can watch Maisie fucking Mouse. (Also, Maisie and Tallulah are totally gay but for fuck’s sake don’t tell Cory Bernardi.)
Shane did still keep creating art, just somewhat more slowly.
Last year was when it all started getting seriously real for Shane Kneipp and his immediate family.
Cynthia (a superb ceramicist) died a sadly untimely death from pancreatic cancer, leaving Shane a single parent.
Shane likened the process to being akin to being parachuted into a particularly nasty jungle armed only with a Swiss Army knife.
Shane Kneipp is like a cockroach, hard to crush.
Shane will persevere.