Ken Knight was born in Sydney in 1956. He is one of Australia’s leading plein-air painters and as such he follows a rich lineage of Australia’s famous impressionists including Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts. His iconic landscapes are inspired by the azure blue of Sydney harbour, the sweeping drama of the Kakadu, the frosty grandeur of the Snowy Mountains and the vast open stretches of land and sea that surround him.
“My paintings are all about simplifying the landscape,” he says. “I don’t like to tell the whole story, otherwise it loses its mystery. By reducing the landscape and abstracting elements from it, I enable the viewers to make an interpretation of the image for themselves.”
Knight concedes his work is in the style of the Heidelberg School of which Streeton was a leading member. He spends approximately four months of the year travelling, sketching and painting as he goes. Several sketches are often made of a scene before the final work is executed; a process he says is essential in “freeing up” the work.
The controlled exaggeration of colour in the landscape is fundamentally important to his technique. Heavy impasto applied with a palette knife and energetic brushwork creates a painting that offers something a little different each time it is viewed.
After each expedition he takes the paintings back to his studio, where he evaluates and appraises them, often making subtle changes to improve the structure of the finished painting.
Over the years Knight has travelled and painted extensively around New Zealand. He is especially inspired by the West Coast of the North Island for its “primeval grandeur” and the majestic mountains in the South Island.
Knight has been awarded the Windsor and Newton Australian Art Award, 1994 and the Royal Arts Society Spring Exhibition, 1998, among many other awards. In February 2003 Ken’s first London exhibition was held at W H Patterson Gallery in Albermarle Street, Mayfair. His most recent London exhibition was at Tryon Gallery.
Knight’s work has been purchased for numerous private and public collections in Australia, England, Italy, America, Mexico, South Africa and Europe, including those of the Castlemaine Regional Art Gallery and Historical Museum, IBM, The Commonwealth Bank, Johnson & Johnson, Parliament House in Brisbane, The Royal Grocers Hall, London and the collection of The Archbishop of New York.