MATT KENNY HIGH-RISE
NOVEMBER 9 – DECEMBER 20, 2019
F is pleased to announce its inaugural exhibition High-Rise, presenting Matt Kenny's most recent paintings of the anthropomorphized One World Trade Center raging over lower Manhattan.
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, New York City had to decide what to build on the site of one of the greatest tragedies in American history. Over Ground Zero, there now stands the multi-purpose WTC, which includes a memorial to those lost in the attacks, the 9/11 Museum, a major transit hub, a luxury shopping mall, and millions of square feet of office space. Of the originally projected seven office towers, One World Trade Center was charged with holding all of the symbolic burdens and was named The Freedom Tower. In 2009, unable to live up to these expectations, Port Authority and WTC developer Larry Silverstein agreed to strip the building of its "Freedom Tower" title.
Kenny's cityscape paintings depict One World Trade Center as a tragic and infantile monster, gnashing and shrieking at the silent buildings around it, a perpetually frustrated prisoner of its birthplace at Ground Zero. This antagonism is built into the skyscraper’s design, which is at once a provocation and a dodge, with its extended naked spire meant to inflate the building's height and its paranoid steel and cement infrastructure built to withstand truck bombs and aerial assault. This bunker-as-tower is outfitted with airport-style security and cloaks its apocalyptic worldview behind a mirrored skin.
The original inspiration behind Kenny’s WTC monster was architect and artist Marshall Wilson's signs protesting the construction of a 21-story mixed-use tower in an affluent area of Houston. At its height, the protest campaign, which began in 2008, produced upwards of 2,700 yard signs, 650 t-shirts, and 2,000 bumper stickers. Kenny notes: "They seemed to be everywhere, they were on lawns. I saw billboards. One caught my eye and then I realized I was surrounded." Wilson's creature, a bug-eyed tower looming over a residential neighborhood, was a sardonic, cartoony embodiment of Houston's land rights. For Kenny, Wilson's monster implied a way of thinking about buildings. "I was already projecting human emotions onto the WTC tower, it just didn't have a face yet."
Works on view
March 12, 2018
Oil on panel
12 x 9 inches
Oil on panel
14 x 11 inches
Oil on panel
11 x 14 inches
Matt Kenny (b. Kansas City MO, 1979) is an artist and writer living in New York. He has exhibited his work in numerous solo and group shows in New York, Rome, Toronto, and Copenhagen. His first solo show of paintings depicting the WTC monster was See Forever at The National Exemplar, New York in 2015. Coercive Beliefs, his 300 page epic-poem detailing the birth of Al-Qaeda, was published in 2017. Kenny is currently working on the follow-up book.
4225 Gibson Street
Houston TX 77007
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