Kurt Knobelsdorf, CVS (2010), oil on wood, 8″ x 10″; courtesy Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects
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In what is probably an apocryphal but nonetheless true-to-form anecdote, Donald Trump is said to have referred to a painting by Van Gogh as “a piece of cloth with some colored mud on it“. Nosing up to Kurt Knobelsdorf’s paintings, you’d think he’d taken The Donald at his word: Oil paint is allowed unabashed independence, its sludgy physicality milked for all it’s worth. Maybe for more than what it’s worth: Entranced by darkness, Knobelsdorf isn’t a sure hand at navigating between subtle elisions of light and blunt materiality. There’s a difference between mystery and murk.
Having moved from Pennsylvania to Florida, you’d think Knobelsdorf would have been converted by the sweeping light typical of the region. Instead, he moves to Miami and is transformed into Albert Pinkham Ryder as done by Albert York. Given the circumstances, it’s not an uninteresting combo; among the umpteen small paintings on display, maybe half a dozen make something of it. The best of them let in the daylight.
© 2011 Mario Naves