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Daniel Kornrumpf: Finding Personal Space

"Line of sight," 2012, hand embroidered on linen, 42” x 36”.


by Don Wilkinson

Last September, I visited Groundwork!, a shared workspace on the outskirts of downtown New Bedford. Over the last year or so, the lobby has become a de facto art gallery, an alternative space that rivals any exhibition venue in the city. It was there that I first saw the paintings of Daniel Kornrumpf and I was drawn in, so much so that I would eventually commission him to paint a portrait of my wife Elizabeth and me as a Christmas gift to her.

Kornrumpf’s paintings in that exhibition — aptly named “Personal Space” — were predominantly large portraits, nearly life-size, with a sprinkling of smaller still lifes. The portraits are touched with such a profound sense of intimacy that, as a viewer, I felt like I was bordering on voyeurism, intruding upon a private conversation. But being allowed to enter those sacred spaces and fleeting moments reaffirms our shared experiences in a way not felt in the sometimes-chilly public sphere.

Kornrumpf, who lives in Berkley, Massachusetts, paints his friends and relatives over a number of several hour-long sittings, and the prolonged process and conversations can lead to minor confrontations, discomforts, revelations and embarrassments as the subjects look directly back at the painter (and the viewer) unrelentingly.

In “Andrew and I Playing Chess,” a man in a red and black flannel shirt leans over a chessboard (perhaps impatiently) and stares at the “I” that is Kornrumpf. The chess player is his brother and the work resonates with deep affection.

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