Brian Kenny has traveled the world, showing his work in galleries, museums, and alternative venues. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory & College, the path to a life in art was an indirect one. “I was always an artist but I never knew I was an artist until I came to New York,” says Kenny. “Before that I worked at Verizon; I worked in real estate; I did PA work; I went to opera school. I kept jumping around. I thought it was a problem from my nomadic background but I didn’t know that art was what I wanted to do until I came to New York and ate the forbidden fruit. Now there’s no going back.”
The turning point came in 2004. Kenny had been living in New Jersey, working at Verizon Wireless in their corporate offices. His friend had come into town to visit, and invited him out to a bar. That’s when he met artist Slava Mogutin. Things would never be the same again.
As it happens with nights on the town, one thing led to another, and Kenny went back to Mogutin’s Brooklyn apartment. He remembers. “The next morning, Slava told me he was going to do a photo shoot and asked me if I wanted to help out. He said he was going to meet up with a friend and photograph him in boots and a diaper, covered in eggs. He needed someone to throw the eggs at him, and he asked me if I wanted to do it. I said, ‘Yes!’”
Inevitably, the photo shoot caused something of a scene. The Clinton Hill neighborhood where Mogutin was living had not yet been gentrified and a punk stunt like this caused a stir among the local residents. Kenny remembers, “When we did it, all kinds of people noticed. Kids were yelling, ‘Paperboy, wake up!’ An ambulance came. Someone called the police and the cops came. They didn’t care at all. We told them that we were art students making an art film. The police asked if anyone was going to get naked. We told them no, and they left. I absolutely loved it. It got off to a good start.”
Mogutin was the white rabbit, showing Kenny the way to Wonderland, taking him down the rabbit hole into a world filled with intoxicating charms. “Slava immediately introduced me to the art world, and in proximity, the fashion world,” says Kenny. “I was mesmerized by all the amazing works of art, galleries, museums, fancy parties and most especially the interesting, beautiful and brilliant artists and club kids who filled my days and nights, all powered by the making and showing of art. I drank the Kool Aid. There was no going back, I put roots down, and became an artist.” For over a decade, Kenny has been creating work that’s been shown around the world, both independently, and in collaboration with Mogutin for their partnership called SUPERM. SUPERM allowed them to create works that fused their strengths, creating a vision that was born of a raw yet polished, graphic yet iconoclastic, sexual yet cerebral approach to the creation and consumption of imagery.
As Kenny observes, “Collaboration means everything to me. Every artwork you make is a unique synthesis or juxtaposition of ideas and images and desires that your brain has already experienced; other people’s or artist’s or culture’s expressions. And I feel there is no better way to learn than to collaborate with other artists. Not only do you learn about their technique but in the best collaborations you create a third mind, art that could not have been made by either individual but only when put together.”
It is through this process that Kenny’s own process of development continues to expand, as he has begun exploring the possibilities of painting in his Long Island City studio. Kenny reveals, “I love to live in art. Life is an unfolding artwork. I want to show and make art in as many ways possible; on canvas, on the side of a building, on arm sleeves, tattoos, rock stacks, both kinds of clouds, the dimple in a pillow, the desirous dream swirling around in your head. A never-ending entropy parade of thought and experience.”
Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.