BRIAN KENNY

Mural

The Age of Voltaire: Murals at the new M3 Hotel in Geneva.

MuralBrian KennyComment
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I was honored to have the opportunity in September of 2019 to grace the lobby windows and walls of the new M3 Hotel in Ferney-Voltaire, just outside Geneva, with an expansive freehand ‘automatic’ mural in my signature line-drawing style. As with all of my murals, I wanted this project to reflect the energy and history of the location, and so I chose to focus on a tremendously influential resident of the area from the 18th century, Voltaire, as well as his close circle of peers and of course include visions of local flora, fauna and furniture.  Not only would this theme be site specific, but also connect to an existing neon light installation suspended high in the lobby’s atrium that features the names of Voltaire and his friends in bright colors.  

The mural was created in two parts, one in yellow acrylic paint marker on a wall of windows looking out into a garden passage, and the other, in pink acrylic paint marker on the opposite interior wall that features small mobile desks with plugs and wifi. 

The interior pink mural, composed of complex, interwoven line drawings, features prominent portraits of Voltaire and his friend and colleague Emilie du Chatelet. In Voltaire’s left hand is a book with a bouquet of flowers exploding outward to represent the sense of enlightenment in Voltaire’s writing and philosophy. In his right hand he is holding a skull as he was a thinker, and a man of Science.  Next to his shoulder sits his pet canary. Emilie Du Chatelet, drawn with hair piled high with flowers and butterflies, is seen holding dividers in her left hand as she was a mathematician and holding a portrait of Sir Isaac Newton in her right arm as she was also a famed physicist and the first to translate Newton’s original works into French. Surrounding Voltaire and Emilie are images of what the Chateau of Voltaire may have looked like; gorgeous chandeliers, candelabras, vases and piles of books scattered about among writing quills, feathers, bouquets of flowers filling the space while a cat plays, a dog sleeps and butterflies, fill the air.

The yellow mural on the opposite wall of windows looking out into the green foliage beyond features portraits of Marie Louise Mignot (Madame Denis), the niece (and secret lover) of Voltaire and the artist Jean Etienne Liotard. Surrounding the portraits is a vast display of plants and animals that are native to France and Switzerland. If you look carefully, you can see an Alpine Ibex, and Lynx, the Swiss national bird the Turaco, or its flower, the Edelweiss. I also added in a bit of creative fantasy for good measure, like a mythical beast that is half-deef, half-phoenix and a little frog riding atop a squirrel.

Both murals also include an array of my own favorite artistic symbols, particularly hands and teeth. Teeth are a re-occurring symbol throughout my artwork as a kind of grounding human totem, or signature. Teeth are our bones on display, an elemental part of each us that is used in the highest form of expression like language, and the most basic, like eating. They are the last part of us to decay and often the only way to confirm our existence after we have died.  Thus, I use them throughout the mural as a kind of decoration of our collective human energy and presence. In regards to hands, beyond just loving to draw them, I also believe them to be a great relatable way to express distinct human emotions, styles, ideas and connections to others and other things. They represent both the people I’ve made portraits and of the viewers of the mural as vicarious participants in the visual panorama. 

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Fashion Fast Forward; a mural for J. Crew in NYC.

MuralBrian KennyComment

Recently over one hot weekend in July I completed a freehand ‘automatic’ mural for J.Crew in collaboration with VM Architecture and Design celebrating human creativity, diversity and collaboration at their sparkling new corporate headquarters in downtown Manhattan. To achieve this I create a line drawing tapestry of interwovens drawings of working and helping hands, tools of the fashion trade like pencils, needles and thread, scissors and measuring tape, fashionable items like heels, sunglasses an imaginative array of flora and fauna like peacocks, sunflowers and hummingbirds. The result is a modern fluid lace that sparks the imagination and delights the eye.

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I used a GoPro to capture the mural’s creation in a quick timelapse

Glass mural for WERQ, a group exhibition in NYC

MuralBrian KennyComment
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Recently, I was commissioned to create a custom 22 x 9 ft rainbow hued acrylic mural on glass for WERQ, a group exhibition by NOGO Arts and Cluster gallery at The Playground in Brooklyn, NY. Curated by Todd Coulter, the exhibition focuses on artwork that addresses how queer people are responding to, assimilating into and liberating society in the context of work. My freehand line drawing mural is a meditation on how queer people are redefining the traditional roles in the workplace, weaving together a creative tapestry of queer working identities like transgender cowboys, lesbian soldiers and wedding cake makers, social media influencers, gay construction workers, plus size models and queer healers and activists.

More information: WERQ exhibition page

PRESS coverage

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Pay It No Mind: A Transgender mural honoring Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

MuralBrian KennyComment
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Recently in May, I completed my first permanent public artwork in the form of a 2,100 square foot mural I designed and painted in Dallas Texas honoring Transgender pioneers and women of color Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera; both present at the Stonewall Riots and key figures in the Queer Liberation Movement. It is currently the country’s largest Transgender-themed mural and I couldn’t be more honored to have been selected and supported by Dallas based LGBTQ arts initiative Arttitude, the Dallas Council of Cultural Affairs, Impulse Dallas, and the Cedar Springs Merchant Association to create this mural on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, honoring these two queer heroes and in raising the visibility of our trans sisters and brothers through art. The mural’s design was developed in collaboration with the aforementioned associations as well as the transgender community members direct input, and is located in a parking lot on the side of a building along Cedar Springs Blvd in the Oak Lawn Neighborhood, home to Dallas densest cluster of Gay-owned and operated businesses. The mural features two prominent portraits of Marsha and Sylvia, both situated closer to the street for maximum visibility and includes a quote by each of them. I painted Marsha with flowers in her hair as she was often seen wearing them in photos, and because they represent symbols of enlightenment. Next to her is her famous quote “Pay It No Mind” and so I had her looking up toward the heavens with a smile on her face to express this notion that she was above the hate directed toward queer and trans people. Next to her I painted Sylvia, staring directly at the viewer, challenging and defiant; she was known for her courage; unafraid to throw bricks, march through the streets or grab the microphone and call passionately for the rights of all queer people. Next to her is a famous quote in which she describes the experience of being at the Stonewall riots. To the left of the quote is a series of raised fists in reference to the riots and the fight for equal rights for queer people. In the background, spanning the length of the wall is the Trangender Flag. Painted over 12 days by myself, with sporadic help from volunteers, including some very lovely local trans citizens, the mural’s completion was celebrated in a block party in which those attending were invited to contribute a few brush strokes of their own , coloring in some flowers along the periphery.

The whole experience really made my heart sing, and I very much hope to continue this kind of mural honoring our LGBTQ heroes in cities across the globe as there are SO MANY wonderful queer people from our history that deserve greater visibility, recognition and celebration. If you think your city would like one of these murals, and can help direct me to the right people, please contact me.

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Photos by Werner Duhme and Brian Kenny.

Press Coverage:

NBC 5 Dallas/Ft. Worth

Dallas Voice

Queerty

LGBTQ Nation

Gay Star News

Pink News

Mural made possible by Artitude, Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, Impulse Group Dallas & the Cedar Springs Merchant Association.

Love My Way: Murals and Performance at the Hyères 34th International Festival of Fashion and Photography, France.

MuralBrian KennyComment
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 Hyéres, France. April 2019.

For the 34th International Festival of Fashion, Photography & Fashion Accessories in Hyéres France, I was asked by the creative director of the famous Villa Noailles, Jean-Pierre Blanc, to be a part of a special group exhibition of contemporary art focusing on queer male art entitled LOVE MY WAY and show my work alongside artists like Jean Cocteau, David Hockney, Slava Mogutin, Gio Black Peter and Pierre et Gilles. In addition, I was also invited to come to Hyéres and create a series of custom murals on mirrored walls and various windows of the Villa Romaine, a gorgeous and eccentric 19th century villa that was the hosting venue of the exhibition, and, perform live drawing and body-painting at the exhibition’s grand opening. Below are some images of the murals I made in the week leading up to the opening, and photos from my art performance.

Press Coverage:

L’Officiel Art (interview with reproductions)

Depicted on these mirored gates leading into the Villa’s garden are the US symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty, drawn as a man, and on the other the French symbol of freedom, Marianne.

Depicted on these mirored gates leading into the Villa’s garden are the US symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty, drawn as a man, and on the other the French symbol of freedom, Marianne.

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Mural for PRIED, a group exhibition in Boston.

MuralBrian KennyComment
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I created a 18 x 10 ft mural on metallic Vinyl for PRIED, a group exhibition at the Society of Arts and Crafts Boston. It is a free hand, automatic line drawing mural that serves as a dramatic entrance into the exhibition, and is a meditation on identity play with a queer focus. Interwoven into the imagery are loose portraits of Justin Bond, Lana Wachowski, Sylvia Rivera and my boyfriend I sharing a kiss.

Curated by Izzy Berdan and Dave J. Bermingham, PRIED explores the vision, artwork and craft of LGBTQAI artists living and working in the US Northest area. In addition the mural, I also exhibited of my ‘Sports Jersey’ Banners “GIRLS WILL BE BOYS” & “THAT WAS NOW, THIS IS THEN” Exhibition runs from April 25-June 30, 2019.

More information: PRIED exhibition page

PRESS coverage: NBC BOSTON

The Rainbow Times, MA

Boston Spirit Magazine

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