Knutsson started painting his realistic tree portraits in the 1980's, after he moved to Brooklyn and discovered the sanctuaries of Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park. Wanting to convey the power and energy of the trees he saw around him, he started to draw realistically and over the years has refined his vision by omitting certain details like grass and leaves. Says Knutsson: "I want no distraction. I want to show how the light hits and reveals the trunk and branches. That’s how I believe the tremendous energy and strength in these old trees can best be communicated." The branches of his subjects twist and twirl through space, disappearing into thin air. The play of light and shadow underscores the emotional and spiritual worlds.
In 2011 Knutsson had a solo show of over 20 of his tree portraits at the Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The exhibition included several portraits of gems from the Garden’s collection and Segue will include one of my personal favorites – Caucasian Wingnut. In recent years Knutsson has completed two commissions in Florida as part of the "Art in Public Buildings" competitions. His proposal was to create realistic portraits of the trees indigenous to Clearwater and Jacksonville. He traveled all over the state to sketch Champion Trees (largest of the species), of which Florida has the largest inventory in the country. In the late 1990's he was commissioned for several paintings in Seoul, Korea.
The works by Knutsson selected for Segue include paintings (acrylic and phosphorescent pigments on linen), original drawings and several prints produced by Highland Studio in Cold Spring, New York.