Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects presents Ernie and Kurt, an exhibition of recent paintings by the artists E.M Saniga (b.1946) and Kurt Knobelsdorf (b.1979). Saniga and Knobelsdorf met in 2003 via the residency Saniga sponsors with the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, at his home in remote Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The two painters became close friends and have subsequently painted outdoors together regularly. This exhibition explores the crossover influences within their respective ouevres and the relationships between their singular yet connected visions.
E.M. Saniga paints from observation and memory, creating a model of reality at once naturalistic and uncanny, analytical and poetic. Saniga studied with Seymour Remenick at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and privately under Bruce Kurland, His motifs are traditional yet paradoxically unfamiliar. Scenes of daily life around Lancaster County range from images of the surrounding landscape to animal carcasses and local dressage riders. His still lives are painted in closely valued tones. Even his beautiful images of flowers carry an undertone of death and decay.
Saniga is also a Distinguished Professor of Information Technology at the University of Delaware. Science and art share a common bond for him as exploratory processes without foregone conclusions. Through images such as the skinned mink or the woman fending off a snake, Saniga explores the fragility and singularity of his subjects’ existence. As he puts it, painting is a way “to explain and to understand something that is real.”
Kurt Knobelsdorf paints from nature and photography, drawing imagery from his plein air paintings, found photos and the internet. Born in Grosse Point, Michigan, He grew up in the Gulf Coast of Florida and studied at Dunedin Fine Art Center and later at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Knobelsdorf’s reinventions of American scenes, such as his googly-eyed nude hitchhiker, describe an alternative American reality. Like the information captured on a surveillance screen, Knobelsdorf’s subjects are both intimate and anonymous. His snapshot-like depictions convey a loneliness that, as John Yau asserts, “is not personal but collective and, more disturbingly, it feels unavoidable.” Yet for all this, Knobelsdorf’s distressed densely worked surfaces retain a startling freshness.
Concurrently, SHFAP presents in the rear gallery a small group of paintings by Bruce Kurland (b. 1938). Kurland is a painter of birds, fruits, flowers, game and modern debris. His still life paintings are connected to the American trompe l’oeil tradition of artists such as John F. Peto. His uncannily balanced compositions are imbued with a glistening light and timeless atmosphere. Born in New York, Kurland studied at the National Academy of Design and the Art Student’s League. His work has not been exhibited in New York for years.