April 16, 2020
The paintings in this body of work explore the interiors and landscape of Ireland, mostly centered around a few grand houses and castles we visited as we circumnavigated the island. Ireland has always captured my imagination: a green land full of history, and maybe just a little magic.
My wife, painter Judy Nimtz, and I began our 6 week painting trip in Dublin. From there we rented a cottage for a month out on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in West Cork, near a town called Bantry. This was a remote corner of the country, wild and beautiful, and we ventured out to paint the landscape and coastline. In Bantry we visited the Bantry House, an 18th century grand house overlooking Bantry Bay, and I was granted permission to paint on-site. From those studies and references I was able to work up larger studio paintings evoking the ever-changing atmosphere of West Cork.
We then circled the island by car, heading up to wild County Sligo, visiting the famed Lissadell House, a place where the poet William Butler Yeats was often a guest. Further north we visited the rugged Inishowen peninsula (northern-most part of Ireland), then over to Belfast in Northern Ireland. Lastly, we headed south east to Huntington Castle in County Carlow, home of my friend and painter Harry Durdin Robertson. There we painted interiors and landscape of the ancient castle, taking in the history and lore of the place.
My paintings are about light and space, and I am compelled to create spaces where the viewer is invited in, to create their own narrative. As such my paintings are almost always devoid of people, but as I write this the emptiness of the interiors strikes me as surreal. The world in this moment resembles the emptiness of a Surrealist arcade, a De Chirico: a conspicuously empty place. When I made this body of work, completing it just as the world was changing, I was working in a state of happiness, getting to revisit those places that visually struck me with their beauty and history. I hope the work will resonate on two levels: as a reflection of our temporary collective experience, but more so as a reminder of the wonderful world we inhabit—the mysterious every day.
Venice Beach, CA
Kenny Harris's preview in American Art Collector can be viewed below in PRESS.