(East Gallery) Kurt Knobelsdorf’s small paintings of South Philadelphia row houses, colorful Gulf Coast Florida residents or old women standing outside their doorway, take us with perfect pictorial pitch into worlds that we normally drive by. His bringing together of daily life and painterly panache is a singular mix of 19th, early 20th and 21st century, by an artist who look as though he stepped out of a 1950s movie. When he paints a suburban home against dark woods, it is as if Courbet or Theodore Rousseau was working in the suburban slums outside Philadelphia. Like any good author, Knobelsdorf apparently adores his cast of characters – the children, old people, strippers and salesmen who inhabit his paintings. Knobelsdorf’s microcosmos of people and places is related to contemporary painterly concerns based on the remixing of photographic sources. Knobelsdorf integrates photography into his practice even when he works from life. He uses his own photographs later in the studio to mediate the plein air paintings he makes outdoors. Knobelsdorf knows the power of photographic imagery. Since 9/11, he has been stopped twice by Homeland Security, for taking photographs while he was painting outside. In a way, he is a digital painter. He understands working from the computer as well as anyone painting today. He paints from the computer as if he were painting from life.
Born in Grosse Point, Michigan, Knobelsdorf grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida. He studied first at the Dunedin Fine Art Center and later at The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. After winning awards there, he came under the influence of the painter E.M. Saniga, the Lancaster County painter and scientist whose work is also shown by Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects. Concise, poetic and dark, Knobelsdorf’s small intense paintings are like short stories that compel us to read all the way through in one sitting.