on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Paul Kenny and Doug Chinnery

Book Reviews

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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We’ve got a couple of books to review in this issue, both by Kozu and both related to each other Paul Kenny has been featured in On Landscape before and it’s no secret that we love his work. His creations with saltwater, flotsam and jetsam are both fascinating and exquisitely crafted. Doug Chinnery has also been featured in On Landscape previously and has made no secret of the fact that his photography has been influenced by Paul Kenny’s artworks (amongst others).

Paul Kenny - O Hanami

All art must move forward to survive. I’ve had this conversation with Paul Kenny a few times and with many other artists (and musicians for that matter). Finding a popular success is as much a curse as it is a crutch; the pressure to continue creating works in the same vein (from your fans, your agent, your gallery representation, etc). Paul’s Seaworks struck an aesthetic vein that gave him crossover success. Both critics and the public liked the work, but possibly not for the same reasons. Paul has made it clear that his work follows its own path and if it leads away from commercial popularity then so be it. 

The good news is that Paul is still producing work that is aesthetically beautiful and that reflects his ongoing joy in creativity. The new work is less alchemical (to borrow Francis Hodgson’s words in the foreword) and less transformational than the Seaworks chapter and has shifted toward the observational. Many of the pieces are re-presentations of found objects in Paul’s garden or objects found on walks, etc. The overarching theme is one of ‘transient beauty’, inspired by a trip to Japan whilst the cherry blossom celebration was happening. From geometric arrangements of flowers and buds to clean-cut and arranged leaves in various states from fresh to skeletally decomposed. This is a natural progression in his work and the book includes images from the 1996/7, 2011 & 2015 in addition to the work from last year (2018).

Paul Kenny’s work continues to evolve and contrary to the usual public opinion on artists, they don’t work in ‘periods’ or change style suddenly, they typically have many parallel ideas which ebb and flow at different rates. Some of these ideas mature into bodies of work, just as O-Hanami has, and I look forward to seeing many more in the future.

The book itself is exquisitely printed and Kozu should be proud of the reproduction and binding.

Doug Chinnery - Abstract Mindedness

When we look at the lives of historic artists, we often discover in retrospect that they suffered from mental illness of one sort or another. It seems that something of the self-analysis, the maniacal periods or the altered states are as stimulating creatively as they are destructive both physically and mentally. However, in most cases, we would have known little about these problems during the artist's life. Fortunately, in the last few decades, mental illness has included less societal stigma and today it is possible to admit to suffering without being shunned by society. It is only possible, not guaranteed, however. Some people will still attach irrelevant labels to those who do admit to such ailments and so it is not without a great deal of trepidation that people do ‘come out’. 

Doug’s book is a bold artistic statement about the dark periods in his own life. Don’t expect all dark and gothic outlook though. There are as many images of resolution and recovery as there are inward contemplation and loss and the seasons passing ride along Doug’s presumed ascent out of the worst of his hurt. 

To use Francis Hodgson’s words from Paul Kenny’s book, Doug’s images are alchemical in nature but not the physical alchemy of the salt and rust of Paul’s work but the digital alchemy of the camera sensor. The combination of layered images using blend modes found in the Canon range of cameras to juxtapose shape and texture to create something new, unclear, abstract, hidden. Leaves against water, plants against architecture, paint texture layered anew. These images work best for me when they hint at their origins but become something compositionally new, where textures and colour complement and contrast. 

Kozu Books have again created a quality product for which all the proceeds will go to a mental health charity (Young Minds).

Both books play at the verges of the landscape and as such may not be to our readers liking but such is the way of all art. We form our own private tastes in life - whether it be our preference for jazz over rock, alt-folk over math metal, some preferring Aphex Twin to Kylie Minogue. Playing at the boundaries of the music industry for some time, I realised that I could appreciate and enjoy the best of all genres of music, even though I had my private tastes. As a photographer, I can see the quality of the work in both of these productions and am happy to have both on my bookshelf (as catholic a filling of Ikea bookshelves I challenge you to find). 

Both books are available via the Kozu website

"O Hanami - Paul Kenny" - Purchase Link

"Abstract Mindedness - Doug Chinnery" - Purchase Link

 



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