Kenny Harris & Judy Nimtz: Painting Partners
November 2022, NYC
Judy Nimtz and Kenny Harris are an artist couple based in Venice Beach, working in different styles of representational painting. Judy and Kenny share a life of art and travel, having separate studios at home where they work and discuss the craft. They rarely exhibit together, so this is a unique opportunity to see their work hung side by side. Each is showing at least one painting of their partner: Judy showing a moody image of Kenny inspired by Caspar David Friedrich, and Kenny showing larger works of Judy in interiors from their travels. Kenny doesn’t exhibit figurative work often, and when he does it is usually an image of Judy caught in a moment of contemplation.
In her figure paintings Judy veers from strict naturalism toward the poetic, emphasizing lost edges and transparent passages. Her flesh palette is purposefully high-key and desaturated giving the figures a marble-like sense of solidity while also conveying the ethereal. Part of this collection is based on the bodies of dancers moving through space. The other part of the show are images from a recent painting trip to Ireland where the megalithic sites and the vast landscape of West Cork embody the evocative imagery she seeks in her work.
Kenny Harris’ work portrays the light and mood of intimate spaces and still lifes from his travels. He is fascinated with subtle light effects and expressive painterly surfaces, focusing on interiors. His dynamic paint application describes the way light pours through a space, with scrapes and impasto embodying the texture of the surfaces depicted. Many of the new interiors for this body of work are from a trip to Amsterdam earlier this year. A canal house of a collector with eclectic décor was the inspiration for a few of the new works. Harris has been traveling and painting for many years, and this body of work is a continuation of this interest in spaces—grand or mundane—that capture his eye for light and texture.
An Article Kenny wrote on being an artist couple:
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.