A few days ago, friends, family and art enthusiasts gathered at England & Co Gallery on Westbourne Grove for the private view of my father Chris Kenny’s most recent work. It is always intriguing to watch an artist’s work evolve, and this show illustrates Kenny’s progression perhaps more than ever before.
Chris Kenny started his creative career very much as a painter, with a symbolic interest in chairs and trees, and patterns and symmetry in natural things. His work began to move into more museological territory and soon he was carefully constructing boxes of precisely selected and arranged things. Seemingly random artifacts to which Kenny attached labels according to his imaginative associations.
Stunning clean white boxes house swarms of cut out faces from photographs, or phrases from books, or segments of maps – things plucked from their familiar environment and made into something new. Every time you look at Kenny’s work you can discover something new, visual or intellectual. And that’s the point, you can take away from it what you like, a new perspective, a funny anecdote, a quote full of wisdom, or just the pleasure of looking at something so still and beautiful.
Interestingly, Kenny begins to hark back to his painting days with a group of new works, of cut bright paper, out of which a statement is cut. They are still carefully considered but have a more painterly quality, a striking balance of colour and design. Declarations read “Hazard” or “Are You Awake?” – they are stylish, and strikingly refreshing.
With Kenny’s unique pieces increasingly being shipped off to be exhibited internationally, this is a rare opportunity to see his newest collection in its full glory. A display that will simultaneously sooth and scream at you.
Chris Kenny at England & Co Gallery until 9 July 2011
Read more about Chris Kenny’s exhibition on Milly’s blog, Thoroughly Modern Milly.