The relationship to home can be a complicated one. Comfortably familiar, sure, but sometimes familiarity blurs what is right in front of us so we no longer see.
When artist Ernesto Kunde looks at South Florida, he sees its beauty in sharp focus. Teeming with life, the gnarly roots of a curious local treasure, the mangrove, unfurl their slippery grip across his canvas, dripping with vivid layers of color. Through this high contrast capillary, vast and intricate, the blood of our natural environment courses to the beat of its wild source. It is here, in the puzzle of our Florida Keys’ broken shoreline, where Kunde’s muse is first captured by photograph, later to inhabit his studio in oil paint and liquid Sharpie. Five completed scenes now hang among us in The Gallery, our private dining room at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, where we experience home anew through the artist’s lens.
The land is where it began for Kunde (40) but not of limestone, wetland swath, or lychee grove. Born in Paraíso do Sul in the state of Rio Grande do Sul on Brazil’s southernmost point, of a pastoral landscape, he imbues four generations of German farming heritage in the new world. Kunde’s family’s farm, not far from the Uruguayan border, produces corn and tobacco, and raises cows and pigs. Farming and playing soccer comprised the daily routine of his youth. Kunde began his artistic journey at an early age, experimenting with works on paper: drawings and controlled coffee stains. At 21 years old, he left for Mosbach, Germany to connect with his roots and work in agriculture. He was, among other things, “a punk.”
Kunde has been living and working in Miami since the early 2000s. He took residence at Bakehouse Art Complex (BAC) in 2012, luring us with nostalgia of our urban landscape in sunsets of interstate signage and Deco facades. Like the vibrant imagery of his mural at Wynwood Brewing Co.’s Tap Room, the native viewer glows incandescent with pride each time we sidle up to a seat at its bar. The Magic City indeed. Kunde’s work reaches beyond landscapes to include human emotions, like the recent series in which he paints the pain of soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder. Feelings of loneliness and loss, the magnitude of war, are conjured in a single figure bent over, alone to battle silent rage, enveloped by empty grey space.
“Over the last two years, I have watched Ernesto develop his voice as an artist and really come in to his own,” says Ananda Demello, Director of Exhibitions at BAC. “We have worked together on numerous projects, the latest one being very new to both of us: Symbiotic Promise, a site specific installation currently on view at the Swenson Gallery. As a curator, I have a very clean aesthetic, and it was a great collaboration to bring his vision to life. It’s nice to see how he navigated through this series. It’s like taking a cigarette break in between one series and another.”
Jessica Gross, Chef’s assistant and TGHG Brand Manager, was tasked with refreshing The Gallery Room, leveraging her contacts in the art world gleaned from her work as a comedienne on the local circuit. After three strikes, she connected with Yuval Ofir of YoMiami who brought Kunde into the fold.
“Ernesto’s work has always struck me visually because of the contrast of the simple, clean outlines blended with complex and striking colors in the background,” Ofir explains. “His series featuring some of Miami’s most recognizable landmarks done in his trademark style were also a big draw for me, given my love of my hometown.”
Demello speaks of the way Kunde matches the subject’s imagery with color to draw the viewer in. “His style is unique and recognizable,” she continues. “ From his bright colors to the stark contrast of the black and white, his paintings pull you in to the scenes, whether it is a sunny Miami landmark, or a gloomy sunset out in the everglades.”
From grim reality, home is illuminated with magic. We bask in its light. Visit Kunde’s iconic WYNWOOD sign at 24th St and NW 2nd Avenue (to be displayed at Wynwood Brewery) and come see his new show, “Mangroves” in the private dining room of our Miami Design District flagship while it lasts.
The Gallery at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
130 NE 40th Street, Miami Design District
29 May 2014 –