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Chris Kenny
b1959

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Chris Kenny in his studio, 2009 
 - image

 Chris Kenny in his studio, 2009

 

Chris Kenny was born in London and studied art history at the Courtauld Institute. He has been exhibiting since 1985, firstly as a painter but, since the early 1990s, he has been working almost exclusively with collage and constructions.

He produces an unexpected kind of poetry with his three-dimensional ‘drawings’ and constructions made from twigs, fragments of maps and strips of found text. Many of these works are presented very precisely in an ordered manner, with objects or phrases of the same type mounted on pins and organised in a way that suggests an intention to rationalise the differences between them. There is an association with museum collections of cased specimens and scientific methodology, but as Alain de Botton has commented: ‘Kenny is a master at delicately excising something – a phrase, a leaf, a road in a map – from its normal setting, and settling it into a diminutive white museum where, hovering an inch or so above the base, it becomes free to release a hidden narrative or symbolic message.’

Kenny’s collage constructions bring together collections of found text with themes that are often humorous, sometimes melancholy, as he gently subverts the meanings of the text fragments that he culls from discarded books. These texts are cut into strips and sorted into categories such as ‘statements of time passing’ or ‘people blaspheming’. In one series of works, the faces of schoolchildren, taken from old school photographs, are lined up above statements of ambition or confession. These brief announcements anticipate and summarise their destinies, now fulfilled but never to be known.

In his mapworks, which use the colours of his materials in an almost painterly way, he says that he replaces ‘the cartographer’s logic with an absurd imaginative system. The roads float and interact in unlikely combinations that allow one’s mind to ricochet back and forth between disparate locations and associations.’ The motifs of roads, parks, football pitches, dual carriageways, car parks and innumerable other routes and places are cut from maps from around the world and identified in numerous different languages. They are re-arranged in new configurations and raised like real-life spaghetti junctions. These re-workings of maps chart the very nature of place itself, and suggest, by rendering the relationships between places arbitrary and meaningless, that there is only one place in the universe.

The art historian Andrew Spira has pointed out that the immediate appearance of Kenny’s works – geometrical and abstract – suggests that they belong to the pure and clear world of early modernism. This seems especially true of their discreet and elegant shades of white and grey, their subtle sensitivity to the aesthetic interest of shadows and their dependence on the constructivist materials of wood, glass, metal and paper.

Chris Kenny has had four solo exhibitions at England & Co and participated in numerous gallery exhibitions, such as The Map Is Not the Territory, After a Fashion and Literary Constructs. He exhibited recent work work at England & Co in Re:formed (with two other gallery artists) in October-November 2007. Kenny is represented by England & Co and his constructions have been acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum,the Museum of London and The British Museum. His collage books are represented in several public collections of artists’ books, including that of Tate, London. Kenny’s works are in private and corporate collections around the world.

Illustrated catalogues are available.
Publications >

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2005
Chris Kenny: The Matter of Facts, England & Co, London.
2003
Chris Kenny: part of me is floating above myself, England & Co, London.
2001
Chris Kenny: Works from 2001, England & Co, London.
2000
Chris Kenny: Recent Work, England & Co, London.
1996
Aylesbury Museum, Bucks.
Artists Book Fair, Barbican, London.
1994
Brighton Arts Centre, Brighton Marina.
High Wycombe Museum, Bucks.
1993
Tecno, Bond Street, London.
1992
Splinter Gallery, Hammersmith, London.
1991
Long and Ryle, Pimlico, London.
1989
Birch and Conran, Soho, London.
1985
Gallery 24, Notting Hill, London.



SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2010

Mappa Mundi, The Berardo Museum Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal.

2009

Zoo Art Fair, London (England & Co).
Slash: Paper Under the Knife, Museum of Art & Design, New York, USA.
City X, and The Map is not the Territory Revisited, both at England & Co, London.
House of Words, Dr Johnson’s House, London.
Cut It Out: Contemporary Paper Cut Artists, Otter Gallery, Chichester; and Southampton City Art Gallery.
Contained Thoughts, The Courtauld Institute Library Exhibition Space, London.

2008
Persistent Obsessions, England & Co, London.
Summer Exhibition, England & Co, London.
Form Art and Design Fair (England & Co), Olympia, London.
London Art Fair (England & Co), BDC, London.             
2007
Re:formed, Chris Kenny, Georgia Russell, Jason Wallis-Johnson, England & Co, London.
Culture Bound: Courtauld Institute of Art's East Wing Collection VII, biennial exhibition displayed in the Institute's East Wing, Somerset House, London.
London Art Fair (England & Co), BDC, London.
Chris Kenny, Georgia Russell, Jason Wallis-Johnson, Project Space (curated by Jane England), London Contemporary Art Fair, BDC, London.
2006
Literary Constructs: Chris Kenny, Liliane Lijn, Arthur Giardelli, Vito Drago, Rupert Spira, Georgia Russell, England & Co, London.
London Art Fair (England & Co), BDC, London.
2005
Tracing Spaces, 66 East Centre for Urban Culture in Amsterdam.
London Art Fair
(England & Co), BDC, London.
2004
ART 2004, London Contemporary Art Fair (England & Co).
2003
Sartorial, England & Co, London.
The Map Is Not the Territory iii, James Hockey Gallery, Surrey Institute of Art & Design.
ART 2003, London Contemporary Art Fair (England & Co).
2002
The Map Is Not the Territory ii, England & Co, London.
Summer in the City, England & Co, London.
Christmas Show, England & Co, London.
ART 2002, London Contemporary Art Fair (England & Co).
2001
The Map Is Not the Territory, England & Co, London.
ART 2001, London Contemporary Art fair (England & Co).
2000
Wallpaper, Old Kent Road, London.
ART 2000, London Contemporary Art Fair (England & Co).
1999
Continuation: 12 Years of England & Co, England & Co, London.
Pagemakers, Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries and touring.

Virgin VIP lounge, Heathrow Airport.
ART 99, London Contemporary Art Fair (England & Co).
1998
Ealing Open, Pitshanger Manor Gallery, London.
ART 98, London Contemporary Art Fair (England & Co).
1997
Pull up a Chair, Scunthorpe Museum, Lincs.
Wexford Artists Book Festival, Wexford, Ireland.
Reading Rooms, Catalyst Arts, Belfast.
ART 97, London Contemporary Art Fair (England & Co).
1996
Pitshanger Manor Gallery, London.
ART 96, London Contemporary Art Fair (England & Co).
1995
The Box Show, England & Co, at the Henley Festival.
British Surrealism 1935-1995, England & Co, London.
Artists Book Fair, Festival Hall, London.
ART 95, London Contemporary Art Fair (England & Co).
1994
Painted Leaves, Artists Books, Liberty, London.
Old Object, New Subject, Nottingham University.
Artists Book Fair, Festival Hall, London.
Bookworks, Gallery II, Bradford University.
Words and Pictures, launched at ICA, London.
ART 94, London Contemporary Art Fair (England & Co).
1993
Art in Boxes, England & Co, London.
The Collage Show, England & Co, London.
Mostyn Open, Wales.
Four Seasons Tree Cycle, inauguration of window installation, Music Sales Ltd, London.
ART 93, London Contemporary Art Fair (England & Co).
1992
Art in Boxes, England & Co.
Pacesetters 12, Peterborough Museum and touring.
London Group.
Mostyn Open, Wales.
1991
Six British Painters, touring exhibition in Spain.
1990
London Group (main prize-winner).
Riverside Open, London.
ART 90, London Contemporary Art Fair.
1988
St Paul’s Gallery, Leeds.
1986
Camden Arts Centre, London.
1985
Riverside Open, London.


SELECTED COMMISSIONS

2001
Works for West Street Hotel, London.
2000
Collage for window, The Cross, London.
1999
Installations for window, The Cross, London.
1998
Collages for window, The Cross, London.
1996
Judy the Obscure, artist’s book (for John Jesse).
1993
Mosaic for the NEC, Birmingham.
Four Seasons Tree Cycle for Music Sales Ltd, London.
1992
Little Journeys into the Heavenly Country, artist’s book.
1986
Record cover for The Fall.


ARTIST'S EDITIONS

2001

Fig.1.

2000

The Secrets of the Deep.

1999

The Principles of Abstract Composition.

1998

The Principles of Flower Arranging.

1997

You are part of a divine pudding.

1996

Eating and Being Eaten.

1995

The Pocket Book of Phallic Symbols.
Satisfuction Guarantee.

1994

The Truth.


COLLECTIONS

Tate Gallery, London (artists books collection).
Victoria and Albert Museum (a construction of twigs: 100 Drawings).
Victoria and Albert Museum (artists’ books collection).
Museum of London (a construction: Fetish Map of London).
Baker & McKenzie, London.
Deutsche Bank Collection, London.
NatWest Bank, Madrid.
County Wexford, Ireland (artists books collection).
University of South Australia (artists books collection).

 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chris Kenny: The Matter of Facts, essay ‘The Matter of Facts’ by Andre Spira, exhibition catalogue published by England & Co, London, 2005.
‘Streets Ahead’, illustrated article by Alex Bagner in ‘Art News’ section, Wallpaper, June 2004.
Chris Kenny: part of me is floating above myself, introduction by Alain de Botton, exhibition catalogue published by England & Co, London, 2003.
Mixed Metaphors’ illustrated article by Andrew Tuck in ‘The Broader Picture’ section, The Sunday Review magazine, The Independent on Sunday, 2 December 2001.
Chris Kenny: Works from 2001, introduction by Jane England, exhibition catalogue published by England & Co, London, 2001.
Chris Kenny: Recent Work, introduction Making Nothing Happen by Chris Kenny, exhibition catalogue published by England & Co, London, 2000.
‘A collector with a fit of the squiggles’, exhibition review by Rose Aidin, Evening Standard, London, 23 March 2000.
The Dictionary of British Artists in Britain since 1945, David Buckman, published by Art Dictionaries Ltd, 1998.
Interview with Chris Kenny, Engaged Magazine, London, September 1994.
Pagemakers, exhibition catalogue, Gracefields Arts Centre touring exhibition,1999.
Seis Jovenes Pintores Britanicos, exhibition catalogue published by The British Council & Instituto Britanico, Segovia, 1991.