Since 1992 I have had many solo exhibitions and participated in even more group exhibitions and art events.
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Inner Flame Contemporary Mokuhanga 2010
ARTIST'S STATEMENT - Inner Flame Exhibition, November 2010
These works are the record of my journey over the last one and a half years developing my skills using traditional Werstern and Japanese woodblock printing techniques. I first started making woodblock prints five years ago and since then have developed my work both in complexity and in theme.
I have been very fortunate to be able to concentrate on producing these works, and also to have visited Japan for six weeks in 2009 where I found much to inspire me. Whether it is the forms and compositions of traditional painting or pop culture and Manga, I have been inspired by the creativity and dedication to quality of Japanese artists and artisans. As a traditional art form, the artists and makers of Japanese woodblock prints have achieved an extreme level of technical ability which inspires me.
I have different themes that I follow, some serious and some humorous. I want my work to inspire you to think about our human condition and how we are put together, and what helps us to cope with the vicissitudes of life. For me it is ideas from Buddhism and, as a culture with a long history of involvement in Buddhism, Japanese art has developed elements of visual language that can speak to us of spiritual ideas, some of which I have taken intoin my work.
Every print in this exhibition is individually hand made from sets of woodblocks that I have carved. They all have small irregularities which are the result of being hand crafted. As limited edition prints, they will hold their value and make very affordable original artworks. My editions are very small, which also makes them more exclusive, with some editions 10 or less in number. In the future, these prints will be very rare.
Enjoy this exhibition and purchase some work to enliven your home.
Terry McKenna 2010
Time Will Tell - 2006
A selection of recent woodblock prints that range in theme from the simplicity of a flower to the mystic symbolism of Dante’s woods. These works are personal images that both mirror the changes in my personal life over the last year and respond the practical issues of having smaller studio space. I have found it exciting to explore a new medium and come to terms with a new process. I hope you will enjoy them and find that although they are loaded with personal symbolism they also reach out to experiences we all share.
Paraphrase - 2003
Paraphrase: free rendering or rewording of a passage or to express the meaning in other words
Several of these images paraphrase botanical illustrations, others are rendering objects or bodies that I have seen. When I have several told people what I was doing with these botanical works they had a horrified expression on their face and said "you're not copying are you?" Well, yes, but no more than the life drawing is a copy of the model. What really is the difference?
I am intrigued by the possibilities of plant images as metaphors for life processes and originally set out to make artworks that explored these. What actually happened is that I became fascinated by the beauty of the forms, and in the end re-stated these wonderful works in my own terms, hence the title of the exhibition, Paraphrase.
These works are about the most basic aspects of painting and drawing - good draughtsmanship that re-interprets what the artist sees and a painting technique that I hope retains the freshness and simplicity of the drawings and acknowledges paint as a substance. There are no grand messages intended, just re-interpreting what I see, whether it is a real human being, objects or images that I find fascinating. Having said that, I believe messages are there in art, some unintended, and the idea of plant forms as metaphors for personal growth is still present. That is what I see when I look at them and again these works are attempting to express this meaning in my own visual "words".
They are also signs of survival as an artist. I have recently been through a period where I lost confidence and motivation as an artist. I once asked a well-known New Zealand artist what their definition of success was and she said, "to be able to keep painting". This is something I have come to appreciate as I have observed other artists have high and low points in their careers, just as I have experienced in mine. Why keep painting? For me it is the pleasure I get from the act of creating and from the achievement of producing something that never existed before.
Man Talk - 1999
Man Talk - Celebrating Masculinity, 1998
This exhibition was held at ASA Gallery, Auckland, where it featured on the national news (TVNZ) and was also exhibited later in 1998 at Take Five, Napier
"McKenna's work has been distinguished by its humanity and lovely paint handling. ...humanity is especially evident in his current exhibition" "The pleasures of maleness are not denied by McKenna, but it is the pleasure of warmth and sharing, not of aggression." "McKenna is never a voyeur. Typically, he is honest and open, even innocent, in works of unashamed pleasure…"
Roy Dunningham 1998
Artist's Statement from the exhibition catalogue
Men are great! Most men I know are doing their best with their dreams, partners, children and work, whatever their weaknesses and foibles. My work is intended to celebrate manhood and masculinity: on its own, in partnership, making love. Strength, action, protection, example, humour, these are great masculine qualities (and I don't exclude women from having these in any way) whether they are expressed in singing, action or just being there doesn't matter. When I set out to create artwork I don't always know what the finished product will be. I have ideas of what I want and what processes I will use but there is always an element of chance and change as a picture is built up. I never know what people will think: taste is so varied. I hope you can enjoy my work and see it as I do. To me, that is success.
Question & Answer - 1997
"The many ideas running through Question and Answer give this most attractive exhibition an intellectual depth."
"His achievment in controlling and directing ..[his ideas].. with depth and cohesion to produce an exhibition of top quality painting."
Roy Dunningham 1997
The work for this exhibition has been primarily based on the composite video images such as "Moment of the Hour Lily". In these I have used images of very ordinary objects: things I found in my kitchen and living room, pictures from books etc. and assembled and manipulated the images to create new meanings.
Using a video camera and a VCR to process the images is a convenient way to collect a range of images and gives a high degree of control.
The process produces interesting and beautiful results on an aesthetic level but also has some subtle twists: the qualities inherent in the technology begin to speak about itself and this can also be subversive when the images are directed at the technology, for example, "Argument for the Elimination of Television".
Extreme close ups and rendering of everyday objects unrecognisable in other ways strips away their usual meaning and hopefully begins to reveal qualities of their inner nature.
I have used the grid as a compositional device because of the analytical association and because when disparate images are presented with equal weight, as they are in this structure, the viewer is forced to make a synthesis or higher unity.
My real interest is in revealing the spiritual hidden side of objects, psychological events or processes the work mat allude to. In this I am inspired by the Anthroposophical viewpoint of worldly phenomena.
The story "Momo" by Michael Ende has particularly inspired me and the Hour Lily works are a direct celebration of this wonderful book. If ever there was a book for our era, this is it!
I also think my experience of domestic life with my family has influenced me in recent years: the daily and repetitive routine, the steady growth and flowering of my children, while not immediately apparent in the imagery, has formed a psychological base for these works. A painting such as "Hour Lily" reflects the building of family life: day upon day.
In the end it is you the viewer who interprets my work and gives it meaning. I hope you find it intriguing, beautiful and enjoyable.
Portrait Drawings - 2003
"People …will be astounded by his portraits" "A small exhibition of particularly fine portraits" "Those rednecks of the art world who still think that anyone can do abstract and expressionist work without training will find, by looking at his portraits, that McKenna has the grounding in the basics that gives validity to his work" -Paul Bennett, 1995