September 6, 2012|By Colleen Dougher, Correspondent
Ernesto Kunde in his studio. (Ernesto Kunde/Courtesy )
Some artists are very concerned with developing one signature style. Ernesto Kunde has several very distinctstyles and uses them to stay balanced.
When creating works for "Nostalgic," a series that depicts iconic Miami buildings and streets, Kunde typically paints on canvas using black-and-white acrylics and adds vibrant colors to depict sunlight and sky. Recently, he's also been painting images of mangroves.
In his darker mixed-media works, the Brazilian-born artist addresses subjects such as revolution, homelessness and unemployment, using black-and-white charcoal, pastels, paint and sometimes objects such as mesh or nails on panels of found wood. When displaying them in a gallery, he stacks 25 themed 11-inch wood panels in cylindrical sculptures or atop one another against a wall.
After doing darker works, he transitions back to mangroves and Miami buildings. Kunde likens these shifts to a cigarette break. "It's good to have that balance," he says. "I don't smoke, but it's like smoking to switch to the brighter stuff."
Kunde seems to be bursting with more ideas than usual since moving to the Bakehouse Art Complex in Miami nine months ago. "It's the first time I'm really sharing a place with 70 other artists of totally different ages and characters," he says.
This has led to even more connections and exhibition opportunities. Already this month, his works have been included in three Miami shows, and three more group shows are on the agenda.
"From Blonde to Brunette But Still Curly," a 23-artist exhibition highlighting old techniques in contemporary art, opens Friday at Bakehouse Art Complex and includes "Anticipation," the painting Kunde says marks the transition from his old approach to his new style. He will also exhibit the "Homeless and Jobless" series at "Made in the U.S.A.," which will be on display at Mano Fine Art in Miami during the Sept. 15 Bird Road Art Walk.
Then, Kunde will be gearing up for "Yo Momma in the House," the Sept. 19 show that Miami artist and art supporter Myra Wexler is curating at 12345 W. Dixie Studio and Gallery in North Miami. For that show, Kunde and dozens of other artists have created portraits of Wexler.
"I'm excited about this next month," Kunde says. "The sky's the limit."
The artist, who began painting landscapes and still-life images in 1990, says he's influenced by what surrounds him. In 2008, after he and his wife moved to Miami to start a family, Kunde started producing brightly colored acrylic paintings of teddy bears, rubber ducks and ladybugs, while continuing to do other works. Last year, he moved on to his Miami- and mangrove-inspired paintings and the works on wood.
His latest works-on-wood collection is "Homeless and Jobless." He began the series shortly after the economy took a dive, but then became immersed in works he describes as more commercial. This year — after observing even more people sleeping on the street or asking for money than a few years ago — he got back to the series. He hopes his art reminds others that homelessness remains a growing problem.
"We pass by these people every day and nobody does anything for them," he says.