Walking into a classical art museum often feels like walking into a gallery of well-drawn photos. There is room for interpretation of what these paintings could mean, but overall, older art takes a clean, candid approach. Detailed family portraits or a group of ladies in the 1800s strolling in a Parisian park are repeated styles in most European art museums— generally, these are straightforward concepts.
Modern art essentially threw those ideas out the window and encouraged jumbled artwork. Gone are the perfectly shaded depictions of a royal family's poodle and in are crooked lines and dirt smeared on canvas. But these pieces are evidently much harder to understand and, for some, are not fit to be hung up on a wall. The questions and messiness that come with abstract pieces are just not some people's forte. But what if there were art that was both untidy and easily digestible to look at?
Splatters of multicolored paint layered on top of paper cutouts usually take up space on up-and-coming artist, Cab Kenningale's, work. Whether it be what looks like several cans of spray paint or large cutouts of flowers, one can expect the unexpected when it comes to this new artist's pieces. And while his style sounds quite hectic, there is a strange sense of unity that comes with each piece Kenningale creates.
The British artist was born in 1985 and is now based in Suffolk, UK. Kenningale does not shy away from using unconventional mediums, whether they be oil bars or gloss. When looking at his pieces, there is a hectic energy that surrounds his work. Clashing colors and various mediums that are usually not paired seem to be piled on top of one another in his work. It is every organized person's worst nightmare. And yet, there is also a calming essence that emanates from these paintings.
Kenningale thrives on the messiness of art. He marks up his pages and lets his hands do the work while his mind takes the passenger seat. This approach is not unique to modern artists, but as he continues to work, Kenningale finds the symmetry within the piece he created. He latches onto the commonalities that are on the canvas and accentuates them. Amongst the mess of the art is a standout serenity that comes from the balance in the paintings. Successfully counteracting the harshness of the disorder is what makes Kenningale's art so unique.
Cab spoke to the Art Gazette describing his process. While explaining his artistic procedure, he simply recited, "The starting point lies in disorder, laying a solid, thick and bold combination of materials, such as pastel, oil bar and household paint onto the canvas and paper. Then comes refinement and control, picking the correct edges and shapes to exploit."
One cannot see what his pieces look like prior to him making them neat, but that would be a moot point. The dysfunction is evident beneath the smooth edges and calming lines. As of now, one can see his art posted regularly on Instagram. His piece, "Wave" mixes shades of purple, blue, and highlighter yellow. Oil sticks, spray paint, and gloss are what viewers can see displayed in various shapes. A crackled texture is present on some portions of the paint. But the rectangular sameness in the shaping of this art gives it a gentle touch.
An Instagram comment about "Wave" so poignantly described it as a "Good balance of smooth and distressed." This wording could be applied to most of Kenningale's art. Like "Wave," his piece "Horizon" looks as though several pieces of yellow paper were glued onto a canvas and walked over with messy shoes. There are dark marks that litter the sides, canvas strings attached to the paint, and fingerprints throughout. But in the middle lies a blob of mixed colors topped off with the same yellow shade in a spiral. This painting comes off as a frenzy, but in reality, it meshes into one succinct piece of art.
Although there is not a clear representation of scenery or people in Cab Kenningale's art, the chaos in his work just makes sense. His ability to create cohesive work while staying true to his love for messy art is admirable and quite rare. As art enthusiasts grapple with the intricacies of modern art, Kenningale's work serves as a reminder that within disorder lies a unique and compelling form of artistic beauty.