Haendel’s series Knights (2011) is a set of impeccably drafted, nine-foot-tall pencil drawings depicting full suits of armor. The series riffs on previous investigations by the artist such as his meticulous depictions of masculine political figures, which included a headless J. Edgar Hoover and a Hitler head floating vulnerably in the center of a white expanse (Hitler’s iconic mustache was crafted from the artist’s pubic hair). Rendered in soft graphite, the imposing Knights embody the ostensibly conflicting ideals of chivalrous deference and invulnerable masculinity.
An expert draftsman well versed in semiotics, Karl Haendel strategically manipulates tangled visual, material, and textual themes, often to humorous and evocative effect. His juxtapositions are as resonant as they are unexpected, whether they take the form of layered graphite drawings, video, or installation. Haendel’s distinct brand of honest humor, honed in his current hometown of Los Angeles, is rooted in the rigorous studies he undertook at Brown University (BA), UCLA (MFA), and the Whitney Independent Study Program.