Michael Kenna: Trees
December 2, 2023 – February 10, 2024
Artist Reception and Book Signing
Saturday, December 2, 2023
From 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Michael Kenna (b. 1953, Widnes, Lancashire, England) will have his fifth solo show at PDNB Gallery this fall season. His show coincides with the release of his book, TREES, published by Èditions Skira, Paris and another stunningly beautiful new book, Photographs and Stories, published by Nazraeli Press.
About two years ago, PDNB Gallery Co-Director, Missy Finger, read Richard Powers’ Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Overstory. In this novel, there are individual stories with characters that find common connection with trees. One of the main characters is a woman who is a botanist that believes that trees talk to another. “The biochemical behavior of individual trees may make sense only when we see them as members of a community,”
This storytelling was quite compelling, and the botanist character helped define the importance of trees. She speaks of forests as an ecosystem that cannot be separated, cleaned out, but must remain intact, the dead with the living.
“There are no individuals in a forest, no separable events. The bird and the branch it sits on are a joint thing. A third or more of the food a big tree makes may go to feed other organisms. Even different kinds of trees form partnerships. Cut down a birch, and a nearby Douglas-fir may suffer…”
At the end of reading this novel, one can hopefully appreciate the tree in a different light. Can we save our own lives by saving the trees?
When Michael Kenna’s book came out it made so much sense to elevate the tree, which is embedded in the crises of our time, climate change.
Kenna has been a master at documenting beauty in nature and industrial design.His photographs of French gardens brought him recognition in the Western world. Then the industrial design of the River Rouge Plant in Detroit and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York gained his respect and off he went to photograph the world, using the perfect light, long exposures and tremendous reverence for his subject.
Kenna found perhaps his favorite landscapes in Japan. The perfect match of subject matter and artist methodology. Kenna’s work has always had a quiet, piercing simplicity that is often found in Asian art and design. His Japan images, especially from Hokkaido, are some of his masterpieces.
This exhibition and book include images from his 50-year career that highlight trees that have introduced themselves to his lens. We can pay homage to their awesomeness through the beauty of Kenna’s photographs.
In the botanist’s book that she is writing in the novel, the end quote is from Buddha,“A tree is a wondrous thing that shelters, feed, and protects all living things. It even offers shade to the axmen who destroy it.”
Michael Kenna’s photographs can be found in many museum collections, including the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, France; Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea; National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China; and the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan.
This exhibition is free, and the Artist Reception/Book Signing event is open to the public.
Books can be purchased at PDNB Gallery, or online via the gallery website,
Image: Michael Kenna, Avenue of Giants, Humbolt, California, 1998