"My paintings capture something of the relationship and transitions which occur between chaos and order. Where the imagination is set with the task to interpret information in a meaningful, subjective way or to allow this visual information to remain chaotic. Both the orderly and chaotic sit within the same spectrum." Ben Kenning
Ben Kenning is a painter and mixed media artist from Newcastle whose work focuses on drawing, painting, and mixed media works on canvas and paper.
Kenning has exhibited his work regularly with Solo Exhibitions in Newcastle, Sydney and Melbourne. The artist’s work has also been selected regularly in regional art prizes.
Kenning’s first overseas travel came in 2010 at age 27 when the artist spent 3 months travelling through Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Kenning’s interests in Buddhist and Hindu philosophy and mythology led the artist to these locations. Kenning would then visit Beijing for two months in 2012 with ‘Red Gate’. In China Kenning found influence in the Eastern traditions and philosophies of Chinese brush painting and Calligraphy. Kenning’s second residency came in 2015 on the back of winning the ‘Jenny Thomas Travelling Art Prize’ from the University of Newcastle whilst undertaking his Honours year, and the ‘We Get By’ prize from Cooks Hill Gallery in 2014.
Kenning has developed his own visual vocabulary complete with recurring motifs, signs, and symbols which give meaning to the dichotomy of the everyday and the absolute.
The surfaces of Kennings paintings can vary from patterned, rhythmic colour field paintings embedded with imagery in colour or black and white, to abstract and expressive paintings of the figure.
The process by which Kenning paints and the symbols and the codes embedded within infuse meaning in the artworks. The artist’s conceptualisation concerns a synthesis of opposites involving philosophical, spiritual and existential ideas.
The artist attempts to articulate a balance between motion and rest; matter and void; ; chaos and order, whilst redefining conventional notions of mental, physical and spiritual realities. The artist draws connections with and between these dichotomies as the basis of his ideas and allows his intuition and subconscious to process such through his work. It is these complexities which make the paintings even more compelling as one is reminded of the interconnectedness of opposites, divided yet a part of the same whole.
Ben Kenning's new paintings complimented the culture, busyness, frenetic activity and colours so much a part of India! Also he was influenced by the disintegration of the cities infrastructure through the passage of time and the effects of nature. He observed the half stage of ruin versus new structures rising. This phenomena is reflected in some of the exhibition workings. Do you regard your Indian experience a game changer? Ben said it was the most consistent body of work he'd produced for a long time. He reinforced the strength, style and alternate subject matter to respond to was a positive development as opposed to working from the imagination alone. The influence of being in and experiencing India was important and the universal theme for the show. He feels he has developed a mastery and control over his art process which was exhilarating.
Mark Widdup, CHG Director.
2014 - University of Newcastle, NSW, Bachelor of Fine Art Honours
2011 - University of Newcastle, NSW, Bachelor of Fine Arts
2007 - Newcastle Art School, Advanced Diploma of Fine Art
2015 - Space 118, Mumbai, India (two months)
2014 - Jenny Thomas Travelling Art Scholarship, University of Newcastle, NSW
2014 - Commission and Grant Recipient for Public Artwork, University of Newcastle, NSW
2014 - Coast to Dust, Grant Recipient, University of Newcastle, NSW
2012 - Red Gate Residency, Beijing, China
2016 - Mazgaon Musings, Cooks Hill Galleries, Cooks Hill
2015 - Untitled, Forsight Gallery, Cooks Hill
2014 - Semi Conscious: mind over matter, WATT Space Gallery, Newcastle, (BFA, Honours)
2013 - Interfusion, Forsight Gallery, Cooks Hill
2013 - Mix Up, Maunsell Wickes Gallery, Paddington, Sydney
2011 - Morphogenesis (Pattern_Formation_and_Self_Organisation), TAP Gallery, Sydney
2011 - Dependent Arising, Brunswick Street Gallery, Melbourne
2011 - Conditioned Genesis, Forsight Gallery, Cooks Hill
2010 - The Whole, Gosford Regional Art Gallery, Studio Gallery, East Gosford
2009 - Modern Archaic, Forsight Gallery, Cooks Hill, Newcastle
2008 - Old Skool, Forsight Gallery, Cooks Hill, Newcastle
2016 - Gosford Art Prize, Finalist Painting, Gosford Regional Gallery
2016 - The Specialists, Cooks Hill Galleries, Newcastle
2016 - Nexus, Newcastle Grammar School
2016 - Art of the Body Politic, Muswellbrook Regional Art Centre
2015 - We Get By, Cooks Hill Galleries, The Varley Prize (winner)
2015 - Strokes of Fury, Cooks Hill Galleries
2014 - PAPER, Spot 81, Chippendale, Sydney
2014 - Bloom, Watt Space Student Art Prize, University of Newcastle (Impetus Award)
2014 - The Friends of the University of Newcastle, Finalist, University of Newcastle
2013 - MARKED (Group Drawing Show), Cessnock Regional Art Gallery
2013 - Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize, Highly Commended, Newcastle Art Space
2013 - Gosford Art Prize, Finalist, Gosford Regional Gallery
2012 - Open Studio Exhibition, ChaoYang District, Beijing
2012 - Shangri La, Open Studios, ChaoYang District, Beijing
2012 - Gosford Art Prize, Finalist, Gosford Regional Gallery
2011 - Alumni, Newcastle Art School, Newcastle
2011 - Gosford Art Prize, Finalist, Gosford Regional Gallery
2011 - Muswellbrook Open Art Prize, Finalist, Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery
2009 - Gosford Art Prize, Finalist, Gosford Regional Gallery
2009 - Muswellbrook Open Art Prize, Finalist, Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery
2008 - NUWORK, Ben Kenning and Michael Langenegger, Newcastle Art School
2015 - Art Bender, "Revolution Rabbit Hunt", Work in Situ (live drawing), The Lock Up, Newcastle, NSW
2014 - SHORTS, Work in Situ (live drawing performance), University of Newcastle, NSW
2012 - Present - Newcastle Art Gallery, Senior Gallery Attendant
2014 - Drawing Workshop, Newcastle Art Space
2013 - Drawing Workshop, Newcastle Art Gallery
2012 - 14 - Painting Workshop, Callaghan Senior College, Jesmond
2007 - 08 - Creative Institute of Arts, Newcastle, Children’s Art Teacher
2016 - A taste of local, national and global, - Newcastle Herald, H2 ART section
2016 - From overload to inspired
2015 - Word Hurl Times Magazine,
2015 - Newcastle Herald Weekender,
2014 - Featured Artist - Studio La Primitive, July Edition,
2013 - The Layman Reviewer,
2012 - Return from Red Gate,
2012 - Noirnotebook,
2010 - Interviewed and filmed by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) for ArtNation (ABC Sunday Arts Program)
2009 - MODERN ARCHAIC