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After four winters of shoveling snow in Boston and a year of living inNew York, Ernesto Kunde and his wife moved to Miami in 2006 so they could soak up some sunshine and start a family. Two years later, Kunde, who’d been painting landscape and still-life images since 1990, began making children’s art. The brightly colored acrylic-on-canvas paintings, which depicted ladybugs, rubber ducks, teddy bears and other happy things, became one of his first ventures as a full-time artist.

Except for an occasional commission, the Brazilian-born artist no longer creates art for kids. Earlier this year, Kunde began producing considerably darker works, a shift he says was inspired by current events.
“Sin,” one of his first such paintings, was created for The Black Heart, an anti-Valentine’s Day exhibition at Rossetti Fine Art in Pompano Beach, and became the brochure image for the show. The mostly black-and-white work, created on wood Kunde rescued from a Dumpster, depicts a man hanging from a noose. Kunde says the painting represents a family man who couldn’t afford to pay the bills.

“Revolution Narrative” is a mixed-media sculpture in which the artist used acrylic and black and white charcoal on 25 panels cut from found wood to explore the danger, fear, violence, cruelty and pain some people endure for freedom. “Most of the panels connect to the revolutions in Egypt and Libya,” Kunde says. “Several of the panels depict riots in the street, the confrontation between rebels and ‘official’ military.”

One of those 25 panels, “Afraid,” depicts a bald man leaning forward, head in hands. A piece of wire mesh is nailed over the image, giving the impression that the man is imprisoned, perhaps by his own fear. Kunde says the image is meant to capture the anxiety and insecurity of people who are afraid to participate in a revolution.

“He wants a better way of life, but fears the consequences of acting,” Kunde explains. “What if he fails? We only hear or read about people who have acted, but there must be others who are struggling internally with what to do.”