Monty Knowles. Photo by Christiane Wesche
Monty Knowles is Bahamian visual artist, an architect and a fine arts photographer who is creating quite a buzz with the painting and photography of his “Nymph” themed artwork.
I first glimpsed Monty’s work during an article published via Tribune 242 and I was truly impressed. I was aware of his work as an architect through another source who had worked closely with him for years and though it was impressive, it was the painting and photography work of the “Nymphs” that left me a little bit in awe.
Excited and hot on his trail, I contacted him and attempted to set up an interview, which took place over the span of several weeks, as Monty was traveling and working in Paris, and then later on to China. We also began to plan a Junkanoo themed nymph painting and photo shoot for an editorial in Nu Woman.
Nu Woman: Tell us a little about your Junkanoo Nymphs.
Monty Knowles (MK): Junkanoo Nymphs, like all of the other nymph paintings, allow people to appreciate the beauty of the human form as art. Junkanoo, in its present state, is primarily about the costumes. The people are simple transportation for the art. The Junkanoo nymphs are an interpretation of these beautiful costumes that allows us to appreciate the inherent beauty of the Junkanoo dancer as a person.
Nu Woman: How did you transform from an architect/photographer into body painting?
MK: It’s not much of a transformation really as they are all art forms. The body painting grew out of a photography project we dreamed up and the resulting art still holds more fascination to me than canvas painting. Although ephemeral, it is beautiful to see these nymphs in motion for as long as the paint lasts.
NW: How long did it take you to develop the technique? Were you always an artist?
MK: All of my art is still developing, but in general my body paintings are intended to accentuate and enhance the model’s form. Perhaps you remember ‘drawing’ butterflies in school? We always formed the swirls and patterns to follow the shapes of the wings. Nobody draws city skylines, trees and other objects on the wings.
When I body paint, I follow the shape of the body to create a variation of the body’s form. To me, the skin is not a canvas as it is to most body painters. Instead, the body is a form to enhance and accentuate with painting.
Art has always been a part of my life. Whether it was drawing at the dining room table during summer vacations, photographing, or practicing architecture.
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Junkanoo Nymph Tazhmoye Cummings. Painting and photography by Monty Knowles.