Grant Kenny was born in Auckland in 1963. Enrolled at Elam school of Fine Arts in 1982 and
worked part time at Artworks foundry, where he discovered a love for sculpture. In 1984
he moved to Sydney where he took life-drawing classes at the Julian Ashton school of Art.
He embarked on a journey to Europe where he would spend the next decade. The first four
years in London and Italy painting copies in the national Gallery in London and attending
life classes at Chelsea school of Art. Here he met and received great encouragement from
the renowned British painter Francis Bacon.
In 1989 Kenny moved to Madrid studying in the Circulo de Bellas Artes, and the Museo del
Prado. He received a number of important commssions from one of Spain’s most respected
lawyers, who arranged for Mr Kenny to be given a private room in the Prado to copy
Holbein’s Portriat of Sir Thomas More. His first solo show soon followed in Madrid. (1993)
In 1994 Kenny travelled to North America painting and returned to New Zealand later
that year. The Ferner Gallery in Parnell recognised Grant’s talent and upon his return he
continued to exhibit in group shows with them. In 2000 Kenny had a solo show of West coast
landscapes in Lopdell House,Titirangi.
He continues to divide his time between figure painting and landcapes both painting in New
Zealand and Spain, returning frequently to Andalucia, a region he partcularly loves for it’s
colour, light and subject matter.
The Madrid Series
The Madrid series of paintings were painted in an apartment in central Madrid. This time
with a single light source, one entire wall of windows softened by the blue curtains and soft
ochre velvet and vinyl sofas- typical of many1960’s apartment interiors in Madrid. There is
a pre-occupation in this series with fabrics and textures from the diaphanous blue curtains
to the soft pink silk pyjamas, Kenny sensitively portrays the feeling of texture and mood in
chiaroscuro against the starkness of Spanish light. This obsession with strong contrast and
light (chiaroscuro) is the hall mark of much of his work, and links his painting to that of the
great Spanish masters.
The Komiri Series
Komiri was a small 1920’s era cottage surrounded by native bush, (karaka and Pohutikawa
trees) on the outskirts of Long Bay, on Auckland’s North Shore. It became the setting for a
series of interior paintings. Inspired by the well kept period furnishings and diffused light as
seen in the paintings ‘the candlewick bedspread’ and the ‘vermillion slip’ Kenny thought of
the bach in much the same way as a film director would choose a location or stage set, to tell
a story set within a particular era. This intimate series portrays feelings of solitude and peace
indeed the Maori word ‘Komiri translates roughly to mean a ’retreat’ or ‘a place of refuge.
‘Kenny was endlessly fascinated by the moodiness and changing light within the interior
of the cottage. It was as a world within itself- he recalls one day while he was working on
a painting he heard a strange noise, turning around to see what the commotion was, to
discover a horse curiously staring back at him through the whitney windows.
A brief history of gilding
Major Art Museums in America and Europe are now collecting fine frames as resources
for the reframing of their own collections in authentic styles. Very few period frames have
survived around the paintings of the 18th century in original finish, since collections of
paintings were frequently reframed in keeping with prevailing tastes. The Spanish Kings, for
example, continually reframed their collections, and Napoleon put empire-style frames on
many works he hung in the Louvre. Just when man learnt how to cover timber objects with
very thin sheets of gold is uncertain: it could be much earlier than 2000BC as many objects
found in Egyptian tombs are gilded with gold leaf. When examined, the surface of ancient
objects is found to be the same as that used now in watergilded framing: a ground of gesso,
(pronounced jesso - a mixture of chalk and animal glue applying at least 8 layers), bole
(a coloured clay again bound with glue, another 4-6 layers), then a very thin covering of
beaten gold leaf. Grant Kenny’s frames are each produced using this traditional method.