Webb Kenneth b1920
Kenneth Webb first came to Galway and to Kennys over fifty years ago. We have been showing and selling his work every since. We can still recall the excitement as he showed us those early canvases, fresh, new stimulating images. The same excitement is still there all those years later every time Kenneth arrives with new work. We have been privileged to host seventeen solo exhibitions of his work and our association, while very businesslike is totally built on trust. He is like a member of our extended family and we have never had a cross word.
As a student, colour made a deep impact on Kenneth - colour in nature and in natural forms, the form itself being of less interest. Since those early days he has been experimenting with his own free romantic ideas and concepts, using direct colour in a subjective expressionist manner. Colour is an all-embracing experience which pervades the whole of the painting.
Throughout his career, Kenneth has been fascinated by a variety of themes. He gets hooked onto an idea, becomes almost obsessional in exploring it, and has to paint his way out of it. "Whenever I am taken by a theme, I seem to have to start all over and invent my own pictorial structure". These pictures are deeply personal, evocative of his remarkable garden in Connemara, and of the blanket bog around his home there. We see the wild flowers, the pools, the rocks, the turf banks, the textures and shapes and moods of an everchanging landscape. There is a real sense of place about his work, the place being Ballinaboy which is for him magical, full of mystery, sensuality and colour. The artist needs an emotional element in his paintings which gives them an atmosphere and a mood, and this Kenneth likes to express through colour. The images in this exhibition are colour sensations, passionate responses, magical experiences.
John O'Donohue has written of this artist "Kenneth Webb's work is a homage to the secret life of colour. Though his paintings are intense icons, you never have the feeling that form or content are forced or contrived. He has managed to penetrate to some deeper level from which the painting is able to assert the dream of its own shaping. He says paintings have always come to him. His work does have that tone of lyrical necessity: they had to come. In our post-modern era, where so much of life is reduced and commercialised through visual and aggressive image, it is healing for the eye and refreshing for the heart to encounter these paintings. If beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, then Kenneth Webb is a graced and gracious beholder"
The enthusiasm and energy with which he approached this exhibition is an inspiration to us. This is a man who does not crave praise or success, but a dedicated artist who is constantly driven to bold new experiments in paint. To quote John O'Donohue again - "Long may paintings continue to visit his imagination and bless our darkness".
Selected Career Highlights
- 1927 Born London
- Educated Bristol Grammar School, Lydney Grammar School and School of Art. Obtained H.S.C. and Slade Scholarship
- 1945-48 Served with Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy
- 1949 First Exhibited Royal Academy
- 1949-52 Studied Gloucester College. Obtained National Diploma in Design.
- 1952 Marriage to Joan Burch
- 1953 Appointed Head of Painting School, Ulster College of Art, Belfast
- 1954 Solo exhibition - Arts Council, Belfast
- 1957 Founded Irish School of Landscape Painting
- 1958 Elected Member, National Society
- 1959 Resigned Appointment, College of Art.
- Solo exhibition - Ritchie Hendricks Gallery, Dublin.
- Solo exhibition Londonderry.
- 1960 Solo exhibition, Veerhoof Galleries, Washington.
- 1961 Solo exhibition - Ulster Office, London
- 1962 Solo exhibition - Maggee Gallery, Belfast
- Moved to Ballywalter
- 1963 Commissioned work in Spain
- 1967 Solo exhibition - Solomon and Whitehead, London
- 1968 Solo exhibition - Imperial Art Gallery, Cheltenham
- Solo exhibition - Gallery, Toronto
- 1971 Solo exhibition - Kenny Gallery, Galway
- 1972 Retrospective Exhibition - 1967-1972 Mall Galleries, London
- 1972 Retrospective Exhibition - Alexander Gallery, Bristol
- "Kenneth Webb" Book published by Shenval Press, London
- 1975 Solo exhibition - Harrods, London
- Opened studio in Ballinaboy
- 1976 Solo exhibition, Deben Gallery, Suffolk
- 1979 Lecture on Ivon Hitchens, Royal Irish Academy, London
- 1985 Solo exhibition - Metropolis International Galleries d'Art, Geneva
- 1990 Retrospective Exhibition 1950-1990, The Kenny Gallery, Galway
- Publication of "Webb - A Profile Of Kenneth Webb" by Tom Kenny
- 1999 Award winning film documentary "Kenneth Webb - A Life in Colour" Made by Donal Haughey
- 2000 Webbscapes - solo exhibition at Kennys
- 2003 A Life in Colour - The Kenny Gallery
- 2006 Webb at 80 - 18th solo exhibition at Kennys since 1963