Klea McKenna - Photographs London Tuesday, November 23, 2021 | Phillips
  • 'For me the landscape is psychologically complex.'
    —Klea McKenna

    Klea McKenna’s (b. 1980) unique, tactile photogram, Portrait (Hybrid 1), presents a giant banana leaf, glowing in psychedelic shades of orange, pink, yellow and green against the deep, black background. Manifesting nature’s mesmerising vibrancy as well as its relentless volatility, this large, immersive work is part of McKenna’s series How Forests Think. To create these one-of-a-kind objects, McKenna used banana leaves gathered from the jungle at the foot of Kilauea volcano in South Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, where she had spent her early childhood. Working outside and at night with the moonlight as her only light source, she placed the giant leaves directly on the light-sensitive papers, recording imprints of the landscape. ‘What I love about photograms is that the process demands a direct physical interaction between the medium and the subject,’ she explains. ‘In most cases they’ve actually touched and the subject has left a mark.’  For McKenna, the camera-less process is ‘like praying and like gambling’ and the performative nature of her image making leaves traces on the resulting works, which are at once mysterious and beautiful. The San Francisco-based artist has exhibited internationally and her photograms reside in such prominent institutions as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum and the V&A, London.


    Klea McKenna, holding a giant banana leaf, on location in
    South Kona, Hawaii, 2014.


    Banana leaves laid out on the veranda of her childhood home,
    built by her ethnobotanist parents Terence McKenna and
    Kathleen Harrison in the 1970s, South Kona, Hawaii.



Portrait (Hybrid 1) from How Forests Think

Unique chromogenic print photogram, mounted.
Image: 152.4 x 81.3 cm (60 x 32 in.)
Frame: 162 x 91 cm (63 3/4 x 35 7/8 in.)

Signed in ink, printed title, date and 'unique' on a Certificate of Authenticity accompanying the work.

This work is unique.

Full Cataloguing

£8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for £7,560

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London Auction 23 November 2021