Raising Awareness From Rainbows: The Art of Janne Kearney

“By appearing in the London Portrait Gallery, I am flying the flag not only for Australia, but for older female artists, those without the right connections and who don’t have a formalised fine arts background or university degrees. I am a mature woman who worked damn hard to teach myself to paint in a unique manner, after I have raised my family and lived to support everyone else. I am now achieving in a field I never thought I could have any place in.” ~ Janne Kearney

In recent times, we have needed our ideals challenged in a way that attracts our attention. With the rise of social media flooding our feeds on a daily basis, it takes more to get us to stop and pay attention to important issues. Janne Kearney’s photo realistic portraits evoke an immediate response from the viewer, not because of their shock value but by way of drawing your attention to these causes because of their use of colour, light and bold figurative narratives. Janne tackles some of society’s most challenging issues, in a way that interlaces and re-constructs some of our most broken human ideologies.

Janne’s use of colour brings a sometimes-light hearted, playful invitation to these topics and perhaps those that hold their most cherished beliefs at heart can begin to question and confront their own views. It’s hard to take issue with something so beautiful, how can you take exception to a brightly coloured heart, a rainbow or the word love so prominently written across the stars?

Janne’s work is clearly having its effect across the globe. She is currently representing the best of the best in the contemporary art world. In a ceremony at the London Portrait Gallery, she was among 53 artists selected, from over 2500 artworks, for the 2017 BP Portrait Awards. Few Australians have reached this pinnacle in their career and this is the second time that Janne has been recognised for this award. The presenters of the award declared Kearney’s piece an example of “the very best in contemporary portrait painting” (according the 2017 BP Portrait Award website) after being judged by a panel featuring some of the UK’s most revered art critics. Janne speaks of what this award means to her “This award might change my life. I’m not sure yet what it will bring. I’m hoping that I can push my art work to the next level. I am in ecstatic that my work has achieved this kind of height, as there are thousands of other artists who dream of the opportunities that come with this prize. They work just as hard as me, are talented and committed to their art, so I feel incredibly fortunate.”

Janne’s passion and interest in portraying confronting subject matter sees this global recognition in her field continue with another award for her painting ‘Me too” at the International ARC Salon Competition. The ARC being one of the most important realist painting prizes in the US and the Americas. Chosen from 3750 entries, The ARC Salon Exhibition will be on view at the Salmagundi Club47 Fifth Ave., New York, NY from September 21st—October 2nd, 2018 with the public opening event on Saturday, September 22nd from 11am to 3pm. The show will then travel to the MEAM Museum, Barcelona, Spain from February 8th—March 31st, 2019, with the opening event and award ceremony starting at 7pm on February 8th. On October 12th, 2018 during Fashion Week in San Diego, 7 winning artists’ works will be matched with a  designer who creates an original couture outfit and look inspired by the work from the ARC salon.

Artist bio

Much of Janne Kearney’s work utilizes light to create a chiaroscuro effect, producing a dramatic quality to her subjects. Her paintings ask the viewer to disregard preconceived judgements of people, society and, at times, reality, each painting invites us to contemplate life within the margins. The young people she depicts are beautiful, often tattooed, and surrounded by motifs of urban decay and abandonment, exploring dystopian factories and the like, featuring broken glass or cyclone wire. Kearney examines social issues, addressing unjust discriminatory practises, seeking to give a voice to the meek and draw an awareness and cultural change to the powerless.

Many of her paintings include a rainbow, incorporating this symbol in recognition of every human’s equal worth, promoting tolerance and inclusiveness for all.

Other works are innovative, forging new grounds in art by exploring 3D technology; these 3D paintings stands alone as 2D images until viewed through special glasses then, as if by magic the paintings leap off the canvas into a surreal 3rd dimension.  It is science converging with art, it urges us to renegotiate painting as being part of a reactive or autistic medium; objects and people are dissociated from their original construct… challenging and overturning traditional painting techniques the image literally.

Kearney has taken part in over 25 exhibitions across Australia, Italy and the UK, and has been a finalist in over 70 prestigious national and international Art Prizes. In 2017 was a finalist in the National Portrait Gallery, London, BP Portrait Prize, (considered the worlds most revered portrait prize), receiving over 2,700 entries from 93 countries, the award is regarded as the ‘Portraiture Oscars’.

Most recently she was awarded the prestigious FWSA ARC Award, a traveling award, visiting prestigious galleries in LA, New York, San Diego, MEAM, (European Museum of Modern Art), Barcelona. Chosen from 3750 entries from 69 countries, the ARC is the most important realist painting prize in the US and the Americas.

Janne is represented by Flinders Lane Gallery Melbourne. 37 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000.


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