Studio Visit

These Hazy, Sunburnt Paintings Are A Call For Climate Action

When Kane Lehanneur was a teenager, he and his brother used to paint business signs at the local pubs and cafes around Manly. It’s only in the past few years that he’s begun to pursue his art-making seriously.

Forever taking nature as his subject, Kane’s latest body of work How Soon is Now reflects his aggravation at the frustrating government inaction on climate change. It’s a move into a much more abstract, expressive style than his previously figurative works – and comes with a greater sense of urgency.

Sasha Gattermayr

Kane beside his enormous expressive canvases. Photo – courtesy of Kane Lehanneur.

Photo – courtesy of Kane Lehanneur.

The yellow tones and fluid shapes from the Flower Beds series have shifted in Kane’s newest collection, which focusses on sunburnt colours. Photo – courtesy of Kane Lehanneur.

A painting from the Flower Beds series. Photo – courtesy of Kane Lehanneur. Photo – courtesy of Kane Lehanneur.

Kane in the studio. Photo – courtesy of Kane Lehanneur.

His Flower Beds series put him on the map, catching the attention of dealers such as Sunday Salon. Photo – courtesy of Kane Lehanneur.

How soon is now – 01 by Kane Lehanneur.

Ku-ring-gai gaze by Kane Lehanneur.

The sunny, light-filled studio is also packed with paintings! Photo – courtesy of Kane Lehanneur.

Photo – courtesy of Kane Lehanneur.

How soon is now – 04 by Kane Lehanneur.

From left: light purched on a kangaroo paw, How soon is now – 03, How soon is now – 02 – all by Kane Lehanneur.

Sasha Gattermayr
25th of August 2021

How soon is now? Although the question is slightly abstract, it feels particularly familiar at this moment in time. Specifically, artist Kane Lehanneur is referring to the Australian government’s inaction on climate change in the title of his latest body of work.

The emerging artist’s fledgling practice started attracting attention last year when he produced his Flower Beds series, a collection of works displaying engorged groups of flowers in muted palettes. They were soothing, earthy and arranged, each bud flowing meditatively into the petal of its neighbour.

His new collection How Soon Is Now is a departure from this neat patterned world. Remaining informed by the intricate detail of the natural world, these new paintings draw on the fluid, intuitive side of Kane’s artistry. In these towering canvases splashed with dusty ochre tones, the chaotic energy of nature is muted into loose, organic gestures.

In this more abstract, expressive side of his practice, Kane engages in spontaneity – a mode of creativity that connects him closer to the environment he seeks to represent.

Hi Kane! We love your sunburnt compositions. Is painting what you do full time?

Earlier in my career, I worked a lot in photography, mainly shooting lifestyle and portraiture. During this time I became more interested in video work, where a passion for writing and directing grew. I still work within these fields, but these days you’ll mostly find me working on illustration, design and animation jobs when I’m not painting. My art making has taken centre stage in the last year!

Can you tell us about the space in which you typically create?

I work out of a shared studio space in Brookvale on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. I’ve shared the space with a bunch of creative friends for about 4 or 5 years now, we all work within the same industry which makes for a great environment to be in every day! The studio is split into two rooms, one being the office space and the other being my art studio. I am lucky enough to have a big open room with loads of natural light which brings a sense of nature into the mostly industrial area.

How is the ‘How Soon is Now’ collection different from your past works?

This collection explores and questions the depleting state of our current climate. ‘How Soon is Now’ reflects a personal compulsion to create art that stimulates meaningful thought and conversation around the pressing urgency for government action against the impending climate crisis.

Do you have any key references or inspirations?

I don’t have any direct or specific reference points in my art-making, though I take inspiration from the different forms, textures and colour palettes in Mark Rothko, Yayomi Kusuma, Alexander Calder and Hilma af Klint.

I tend to gain influence from a lot of different places, not just in the art world, but through, music, nature and everyday life. When I am not in the studio I try to spend as much time as possible outside, this is what really sparks my impulsive creative thought processes!

What does art-making mean to you, and what do you hope to communicate?

Art-making to me, is always in a kind of perpetual flux, constantly changing with the ways I see the world. Though I work within a range of trades, I really want to focus on art as a career and engulf myself in that realm. I am inspired in the power of art and its ability to communicate and cultivate change through its many formats.

All the paintings in ‘How Soon Is Now’ are available to purchase. See the full catalogue here and contact Kane here to organise a sale.

Learn more about Kane’s practice here.

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