Vignette: Kenneth Hayden

  "Birth of Venus" by Kenneth Hayden, 70x60in, acrylic on linen (2015)

"Birth of Venus" by Kenneth Hayden, 70x60in, acrylic on linen (2015)

Kenneth Hayden’s dense and eye-popping collage-like paintings seem light-hearted, with easy surface appeal for their candy colors. In fact, some of the paintings include gumdrops among the image elements. Yet Hayden is expressing themes that are much weightier, even darker than his Pop Art palette would suggest.

“’Birth of Venus’ was inspired by both Botticelli and the Black Lives Matter movement,” explains Hayden. “I show Venus as a crow rising from a Technicolor field of gumdrops borne by a lotus blossom. Tibetan Buddhism recognizes the crow as an incarnation of Mahakala, whose name literally means the Great Black One. Gumdrops are colorful and delicious. They are an unhealthy earthly treat unsuitable as an offering to Buddha for the attainment of enlightenment.”

In another painting, ‘The Mathematics of Providence’, Hayden employs the image of a gun, a recurring motif in his work that immediately cuts through the busy compositions characteristic of his work. The artist’s reasoning about how the image functions can be complex and mercurial: “A diamond refracts the light/energy/debris exploding from a skull in two different directions. The path heading off to the right has no definable destination or explanation. The left bearing path travels through a black hole represented by a crudely painted diagram complete with cast shadow and illusionistic masking tape holding it to the picture plane. It’s an astrophysicist’s note describing a theoretical portal to another realm to be considered or removed. The letter ‘z’ is the path of entry. ‘X’ and ‘y’ are the event horizon, the point of no return; the boundary in space time beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer.”

  "The Mathematics of Providence" by Kenneth Hayden, 56x46in, acrylic and graphite on canvas with painted paper collage and glitter (2017)

"The Mathematics of Providence" by Kenneth Hayden, 56x46in, acrylic and graphite on canvas with painted paper collage and glitter (2017)

“I make paintings about topics that I find interesting or otherwise create in me a strong emotional response. By posing questions surrounding themes such as standards of beauty, our knowledge of our own mortality, or the contradictions of science v theology, I want my work to open avenues for discussion that one might not otherwise consider. I don’t pretend to have the answers, nor do I want to rigidly define the specific purpose or meaning of a work. Titles often provide clues to deciphering my thinking. The image elements themselves frequently have a duality, much like the subjects I contemplate. For example, I use the lotus as a totem for acceptance and awareness, and as a warning to illuminate ignorance. A gun can kill. Or, does it speed one on to ‘the afterlife’ as an unexpected perk? Is death a punishment or a reward? Does an opioid high bring inner peace? And sometimes – a picture is just a picture.”

  "Lotus Geometry" by Kenneth Hayden, 56x46in, acrylic on paper and canvas (2017)

"Lotus Geometry" by Kenneth Hayden, 56x46in, acrylic on paper and canvas (2017)

In 2016 Hayden was the recipient of an Artist Professional Development Grant from the Great Meadows Foundation, Kentucky.

Selected Curated and Juried Corporate Art Collections:
21C Museum-Hotel, Louisville, KY
Atlas Brown, Inc., Louisville, KY
Brown Forman Corporation, Louisville, KY
Cafe Lou Lou, Louisville, KY
Churchill Downs Corporate Office, Louisville, KY
Commonwealth Bank (various locations)
Credit Clearing House, Louisville, KY
Dean-Dorton, PLC, Louisville, KY
Jones Ward PLC, Louisville, KY
Olin Brass/GBC Metals, Louisville, KY
Republic Bank, Louisville, KY
Sewell, O'Brien & Neal, PLLC, Louisville, KY
Sortino Group, Inc., Louisville, KY
Tachau-Meek PLC., Louisville, KY
Tamdem Marketing and Public Relations, Louisville, KY
Ventas, Inc. (Louisville and Chicago)
Waterfront Park Place Condominiums, Louisville, KY

Hometown: Owensboro, Kentucky
Age: 59
Education: AA in Photography, Brescia University, Owensboro, KY
Website: http://www.kennethhayden.com

  Kenneth Hayden's studio.

Kenneth Hayden's studio.

  "Gumdrops for Buddha" by Kenneth Hayden, 84x48in, acrylic on canvas (2014) 

"Gumdrops for Buddha" by Kenneth Hayden, 84x48in, acrylic on canvas (2014) 

  "Milk and Honey" by Kenneth Hayden, 48x46in, acrylic on canvas with painted paper collage (2017)

"Milk and Honey" by Kenneth Hayden, 48x46in, acrylic on canvas with painted paper collage (2017)

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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