Ken Knight is a remarkable artist and a prolific award winner in traditional realist art circles who has been capturing the unique landscape of Australia for over 25 years following his first solo exhibition in 1979. Painting in the tradition of his mentors, the great impressionists of the 1890s and the tonal painters of the inter-war period he spends his creative time in the open “All the paintings have been painted on location. It’s standing before the subject and responding to it that enables an impressionist artist to do his thing best.”
Knight is a modern impressionist whose style and paintings “evoke the essence of the Australian landscape,” according to Justin Miller, Chairman of Sotheby’s Australia. “Ken’s brush technique is bold and painterly, yet the mood created is reflective.”
In 1998/99 alone Knight won the North Shore Times Crows Nest Art Prize, the South Australia’s Victor Harbour Art Prize, First Prize in the Wyong Festival of the Arts and topped it off with the $20,000 Best in Show prize from over 2000 entries in the Annual Herald/Sun Camberwell Rotary Art Show in Victoria.
In July 2005 his retrospective survey exhibition A Love of Landscape was held at the Gosford Regional Art Gallery and featured works displaying the development of his style from his beginnings to the present day. Among the works was a rare collaborative painting with Arthur Boyd, Australian Artist of the year in 1995.
Ken Knight’s style has won him international acclaim and success in Britain, Europe and the United States and has earned him the role as one of Australia’s important landscape artists.
Of his approach to landscape painting Ken says,
“Landscape images, derived from a direct response to the subject, form the integral theme in my work. As an impressionist I paint en plein aire - painting in oils in a spontaneous and free manner.
The challenge for me lies not so much in relaying photographic information, but in capturing the essence and spirit of a scene. By reducing the landscape and abstracting elements from it, I enable the viewer to make an intimate interpretation of the image.
Thus perception follows observation in the same way as the viewer may have responded to the original subject. Through the elimination and reduction of detail I can convey reality strongly and more robustly, without creating areas of unnecessary distraction which detract from the overall picture.
It then follows in this impressionist pursuit that 'less becomes more'. The challenge for the artist becomes one of finding the right dynamic balance each time the easel is set up outside: to observe, perceive, interpret and abstract,
In finding this balance, the artist relies heavily on colour - perhaps the greatest tool available to the artist. Colour should not be limited to merely setting a mood or establishing time of day, it should create energy and set up tensions that are integral to the life force of the painting.
The control and exaggeration of colour in the landscape are fundamentally important, used in conjunction with thick paint, palette knife and energetic brushwork, the artist can create a painting that offers something a little different each time."