Beauty is an act of resistance. Ruth Naomi Floyd

Gerhard Knell: The Dreamer

ArtWay Visual Meditation July 29, 2018

Gerhard Knell: The Dreamer


by Patrik Scherrer

A boy is lying with eyes closed and his arms crossed behind his head on a surfboard. Behind him a running brook flows diagonally through the picture. Its water makes the vegetation along the bank grow and thrive on the reddish desert soil.

The boy on the surfboard and the landscape do not really fit together. The stream is too narrow. The boy is painted frontally, as if standing upright, while the river is presented as viewed from above. This way it looks as if the boy is floating high above a river that flows far below. This perspective indicates that the stream not only flows below him, but also through him, carrying his thoughts along into distant worlds.  

The surfboard and the water inspire his mind to travel, to surf without limits through the worlds of adventure, fantasy and dreams. He is relaxed as he is lying there, his mind turned inwards, concentrating on what he sees in his inner self. He does not exactly look like a dreamer who seeks to escape reality. Rather he seems to want to see what kind of longings, wishes and messages can be conjured up from the depth of his life, so that he can follow, realise and experience them.

Jacob experienced in Bethel how important dreams could be as a place for revelation. In his sleep he saw heaven opened, with angels ascending and descending and he heard God speak to him (Gen. 28:11-17). His son Joseph (Gen. 37:5-8) and Joseph, the fiancé of Mary (Mt. 1:20; 2:13; 2:19), also repeatedly had the experience of God showing them in dreams what he intended for them. The surfboard, which from its shape suggests a mandorla, also alludes to divine revelation and with it to the glory and healing power of God. Its orange colour connects it with the similarly coloured soil and charges the earth, as it were, with energy. In this way the barren desert soil acquires a divine and inexhaustible potential. The orange and the blue, orange’s complementary colour, complement and complete each other: God reveals himself in the desert as well as in the water, in the silence of dreams as in surfing adventures on the waves. The boy’s elbows and the tip of the surfboard ‘happen’ to result in the upper part of a star, inconspicuously indicating that ‘stellar’ moments of the extraordinary nearness of God can happen anywhere.

Finally the boy invites me to contemplate, to reflect in silence. He invites me to spend time with God, to look inward for God’s plan, for my unique calling in the continuation of his creation and guidance of his people. A meeting with God can take place on a surfboard. Any place of silence can be a springboard to HIM and to the reality or task that is assigned to me.


The artist’s paintings and light sculptures of his brother are exhibited in the Galerie Freiraum 16 in München until August 10, 2018.

Gerhard Knell: The Dreamer, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 145 x 110 cm.

Gerhard Knell (b. 1962) is a German artist who paints landscapes that deal with the relation between human beings and nature. They are a mirror of the soul.; and instagram account artof_gerhardknell.

Patrik Scherrer is the driving force behind the German website Bildimpuls. Every fortnight he sends out a ‘Bildimpuls’ or visual meditation, in which he focuses on contemporary Christian and religious art from Germany, Switzerland and Austria. He studied theology and works with the mentally handicapped. He wrote the book Gott in Sicht? 33 Impulse zum christlichen Glauben aus der Pinakothek der Moderne, Schnell & Steiner, 2005. On the Bildimpuls website there is also a lot of information about artists, books, museums, exhibitions and organizations. See



1. GERMAN MEDITATION – Patrik Scherrer hat die ArtWay Meditation durch Wilma Wagenaar über Nikola Saric: Die hl. Märtyrer von Libyen übersetzt ins Deutsche.

2. INTERVIEW WITH ALASTAIR GORDON - From time to time Alastair is asked to be interviewed for an arts magazine or website. Usually the interviews focus on the nature of his painting or current ideas in the work. For his most recent interview he has been asked to share about how being a Christian influences the way he paints. This was a wonderfully generous interview, not least for an online magazine that doesn’t usually discuss ideas of faith in contemporary art. If you’d like to read the piece you can find it on the Artlyst website here, with thanks to Artlyst and Jonathan Evens who did the interview. 

3. CALL FOR PAPERS by the Ghirardacci Study Centre, Bologna, related to post-war religious architecture (Abstract Deadline 31 July 2018 / Paper Deadline 31 December 2018). Read more

4. SOUTH AFRICA ARTIST GATHERING - 5 October – 6 October, East Mountain, Stellenbosch: Artist Gathering. Last year and in 2016 a gathering for artists took place just outside of Stellenbosch on a wine farm/ guest house called East Mountain. This year the conference will go ahead again, and we have invited various practicing artists who are of Christian faith to be guest speakers. There is also opportunity for artists who are believers to network, discuss theological/academic and practical struggles central in their art practice and to be encouraged by the teaching and input. This year it will be organised by Ydi Coetsee and Heidi Salzwedel. Dr James Krohn of Krux Centre for Christianity and Culture will be overseeing the event.

5. USA BRUCE HERMAN AT LAITY LODGE - 26 October – 28 October, Laity Lodge, 11756 North US Hwy 83, Leakey, TX: Ordinary Saints. In a series of portraits of friends and family members, painter Bruce Herman explores these glimpses of the Divine Face as found in the particular ordinary human faces around him. Laity Lodge offers a unique opportunity to spend a weekend of retreat in conversation with the artist as well as with poet Malcolm Guite and composer JAC Redford, who have created works in collaboration with Herman and which will be exhibited together on site.

For more exhibitions, lectures, conferences etc. inside and outside your country, click here

ArtWay is a website with resources for congregations and individuals concerned about linking art and faith.