Drool Over Abbi Kenny’s Mouth-Watering Market Spreads
Editor’s note: an earlier version of this post ran in 2022. We’re publishing this update in honor of our 2023 exhibition, Sugar Rush, which includes work from Abbi Kenny.
Devoted foodie Abbi Kenny schleps her trusty Nikon SLR into packed public markets in search of marbled ribeye cuts, raw oysters, and fresh fish. Using her photographs as reference material, the emerging painter guides viewers through a savory culinary adventure, from ingredient prep to finished dish.
Over the pandemic, Abbi’s routine trips to the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto became the inspiration for her current body of work Fish and Flesh—one of three series now in progress. She describes the rich variety of artisanal eats in the international food scene: “Unlike the conventional North American grocery, the market displays a bountiful variety of comestibles for the hungry consumer, such as diverse cuts like whole rabbits, crocodile burgers, pigs’ feet, marrow bones, and ox-tail.” Plenty for a meat-loving artist to drool over.
Abbi renders each spread with mouth-watering detail, using layers of paint, paper, glitter, and molding paste to create hand-drawn labels and iridescent sheen on dry-aged porterhouses. “The initial impression of my paintings should be seductive, deceivingly realistic, and photographically exact,” Abbi says. “But, upon further investigation, the surfaces should dissolve into their materiality.”
Also a history buff, Abbi imagines painting as a form of documentation, choosing regional ingredients and recipes for her hearty still lives. “I like to imagine that I am the archaeologist’s unexpected assistant—a painter and image-maker,” she says. “My paintings are observations of now, but they could give insight into the materiality of this era to coming generations […] material culture is inseparable from the history of painting, and I aim to bring this together with my passion for food and cuisine.”
Scroll through to view Abbi’s work, then head over to NOT REAL ART’s May 2023 exhibition, Sugar Rush to see Abbi’s submissions, “Cypress Grove Picnics in Our Federal Hill Yard” and “Kung Fu Girl in Paisley.”
“The market displays a bountiful variety of comestibles for the hungry consumer, such as diverse cuts like whole rabbits, crocodile burgers, pigs’ feet, marrow bones, and ox-tail.”— Abbi Kenny
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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