California based painter Kenny Harris paints landscapes, still life and figurative works, but it is his extraordinary room interiors that captured my attention.
Bathed in soft, often indirect light, punctuated by brighter passages of windows or doorways, his interiors are rendered in subtle, dimensional layers of muted colors and painterly textures.
Harris studied Fine Art at the Colorado College in Colorado Springs, and then continued studying the classical tradition at the Charles Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy, and at the Art Students League in new York, where he was a student of the prominent American painter and teacher Frank Mason.
Though he studied in Italy, to my eye, his interior paintings carry echoes of the interiors of Dutch masters like Pieter de Hooch, Vermeer and Gabriel Metsu — and perhaps even more so, 19th century Amreican painters who were influenced by them, like William McGregor Paxton and Edmund Charles Tarbell. (I was immediately reminded of Tarbell’s sketch for Across the Room, when I saw Harris’ sketch shown above, bottom.)
Harris is a painter whose interpretations of light, while poetic, seem unerringly true. In particular, I love the way he portrays light from doors and windows splashing across the surfaces of aging wooden floors (again bringing Tarbell to mind).
Whether these artists were actual influences on Harris is just conjecture, as the biographical information on his website is not extensive.
What is to be found on his site, however, is a beautiful selection of his work, from his apparently extensive travels, as well as his immediate surroundings. Be sure to click on the initial images in each section to bring up the larger images, which reveal his work to be more painterly than you might think from smaller reproductions.
[Exhibition update: The work of Kenny Harris will be on display in NY at the George Billis Gallery, from September 30 to October 31, 2014.]