Open Frequency 2008: Kenny Hunter selected by Claudia Zeiske

Open Frequency 2008: Kenny Hunter selected by Claudia Zeiske Kenny Hunter, Citizen Firefighter, 2001. 190 cm x 100 cm x 86 cm. Bronze, stone. Credit: Steven Maxwell

Claudia Zeiske profiles the work of Kenny Hunter

Kenny Hunter is primarily a sculptor engaged in making monumental work. While a lot of his work resembles the great sculptural traditions both in size and perfection, his materials and subject matter don't. Made conspicuously out of fibre-glass, his sculptures have a polished finish strikingly akin to the Renaissance marble of Michelangelo or Donatello, although their hues owe more to the monochromes of mass-produced plastic toys. However, while reminiscent of off-the-peg objects of the Romano-Greek triumph genre, they are meticulously made using traditional sculptural methods.

The subjects that inform Hunter's work could hardly be further from the muses of the Renaissance masters – instead of drawing on the Bible or tales of Classical History, he reaches for inspiration from unsung heroes of the modern age – the monkey that went into space; the firemen that rescued the place.

Certainly monumental, his work speaks of oversized and outgrown toys, cartoonish animals and objects from contemporary life that are presented as 'anti-monuments', constantly questioning the world that surrounds us: the big and the small in politics and history, the worth and the psyche of animals including ourselves.

The word monumental comes from the Latin 'monere', meaning 'to remind' or 'to warn'. Strangely, many of Hunter's works seem to suffer from a Cassandra-like tendency to pre-empt events in history: 'The Calf' (1999) was installed just before the advent of foot-and-mouth disease; 'Citizen Firefighter' (2001), a tribute to the firefighters of Scotland, opened just a month before 9/11. Although these can be attributed to coincidence, one is left open to speculate on the possibilities of the artist being privy to secret events or being the possessor of a seventh sense.

Claudia Zeiske, November 2008

Artist's biography

Born in Edinburgh in 1962, Kenny Hunter studied sculpture at Glasgow School of Art between 1983 and 1987. He has exhibited extensively abroad and in the U.K. including solo exhibitions at Arnolfini (Bristol, 1998), Scottish National Portrait Gallery (2000), Centre for Contemporary Arts (Glasgow, 2003), Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2006) and Tramway (Glasgow, 2008). Hunter has also created a number of high profile, commissioned works for Scotland including 'Cherub/Skull' (1997) for the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 'Man walks among us' (2000) for Glasgow Museums, 'Youth with split apple' (2005) for Kings College, Aberdeen and 'Citizen Firefighter' (2001) outside Glasgow's Central Station. Hunter lives and works in Glasgow.

About Claudia Zeiske

Claudia Zeiske is a freelance curator and cultural administrator who has advised organisations on all levels through her company FineFunds since moving to Scotland in 1995. She has gained experience in arts management over many years through working both in the UK and internationally, developing contemporary visual arts related projects, including public art projects, residencies, touring projects and installations. She has an in depth knowledge of contemporary art practice in Scotland with wide international contacts and visions for bringing local issues on a global level.

Open Frequency keeps you in touch with new developments in contemporary art practice from across the UK. The artists are selected and profiled by leading curators, artists and writers, presenting the work of artists to watch out for over the coming year. Open Frequency represents a forward-looking glance today of the artists who will be setting the agenda tomorrow.