SOCIAL GRAVY PAGE 6
Symbolic figures have message
Jennifer Kenny’s art is being exhibited from this week in the front gallery at Whanganui Arts at the Centre in Taupo Quay.
Using traditional Ma¯ ori forms in contemporary settings, her work is distinctive, intuitive, bold and delightful. The exhibition is called Social Gravy and a large, framed poster explains the significance of the title in relation to her work.
Her paintings and the forms and symbols she uses are familiar to all New Zealanders, but presented to the viewer in an unfamiliar way. It’s abstract but has a close relationship with reality.
Jenny picked up painting seriously after returning from Scotland in 2004.
“I was living in Upper Hutt but came back to Whanganui for some grounding.”
Jenny was born and raised here. Her mother comes from the Chatham Islands. A framed antique map of the Chathams adorns a wall in Jenny’s home. She enjoyed art at school. “In primary school I loved making things. Creativity was my strength. My pictures were always bold and colourful.”
Jenny showed her work in Artists Open Studios this year, joining Greg Betts at Bricksticks, and she has artwork for sale at Kura Gallery in Auckland and Wellington, but this is her first solo exhibition.
In her Food, Wine and Company series, Jenny’s characters, painted with mere (greenstone club) bodies, hei tiki heads and faces and the threetoed feet as depicted in carvings, feature in domestic settings like kitchens and lounges. They are usually accompanied by large amounts of food — ku¯ mara, potato, sausages, vegetables, meat and fish, with sauces, soup and wine.
“I paint to get people thinking, but I like to say you make of it what you will. I want people to take something away from it. There are messages in there, although people can find their own.”
Jenny uses acrylic paint but has ventured into the use of coloured pencils for an interesting effect.
While there is an underlying theme in her work, there is also a great deal of variety which is apparent in the 18 or so paintings she is putting into the exhibition.
Social Gravy exhibits from December 8-15 in the front gallery at Whanganui Arts at the Centre, 19 Taupo Quay.
Most of the works are for sale.
Jennifer Kenny with the type of symbolic figure she uses in her art.