Kira Behnert channels her positive outlook on life into her art; contrasting powerful, bright colours with subdued tones to reflect her respect for nature and the opportunities life’s challenges bring. Inspired by her travels to the Middle East, Southern Europe and sunny California, Kira’s work is driven by emotions; she continues to ‘write chapters’ until she feels the story is told. Her art intends to radiate this positivity in people’s homes.
KBS Beach Grado
The glass half-full rather than half-empty; where life’s obstacles provide opportunity rather than difficulty
Your work is influenced by the ideology of ‘anything is possible’ (which is so uplifting and inspiring!) – can you share with us what your art means for you? And what are your aims with your work?
As a creative, I am always looking for new and exciting things that capture my eye and my mind. Limitations are a welcome and exciting challenge and obstacles are an opportunity to create something new and possibly innovative. The process of producing art makes me see life in colour and feel vibrant and happy. Even when the skies are grey and in adversity, you can find inspiration – even when the day can seem mundane. I aim to channel the freedom and energy that I feel into my work and transport this into people’s homes.
Your work contains an eclectic mix of colours and shapes – how do you decide on which colours to use? What does colour and shape mean to you?
In terms of colour and material I am very influenced by my time spent in California and the sunny coast of Southern Europe. Colours are powerfully bright and amazingly uplifting, whilst mixed with subdued tones in a respect for nature. This is seen in the delicate tints of sand and rock and the many shades of ocean blue. It reflects how I see life: cheerful whilst respectful.
In terms of shapes, I am attracted to clear forms and simple lines, and value the power of ‘empty’ spaces, even when producing complex layers. The eye needs intervals of activity and space. For me, abstract works need to incorporate an illusion of 3-Dimensional depth to give space to breathe and to make spaces look more open.
The layering process plays an important part in your art – what do the different layers represent? And what materials do you most enjoy using?
Layering is an important process of my art: it’s like a story told in several chapters.It gives depth and space, whilst creating interest – something new to discover. I work with different paints, collage, textiles, plaster, sand, inks, printing. It makes the artwork more complete and intriguing. In the end, I am driven by emotions. I continue ‘writing chapters’ until I feel the story is told.
KBS UT Native Art
Travel is also a strong influence; which countries have had the most influence on your work? And what have been some of the main inspirations you have taken from different cultures?
Travelling to the Middle East prior to the Syrian war has given me insight not only into a very different culture and its different traditions, but into local craftsmanship.I was intrigued by Damascus’ sandy urban walls hiding beautiful courtyards covered in amazing mosaic art, as well as little hidden artisan shops producing jewellery, furniture etc. I created collage works with plaster in memory of these.
Southern Utah also holds a special place in my heart. There, often you don’t meet another human being for hours. Nature is all around you: gorgeous sandy red rocks, dark blue water, turquoise skies. At night all these seem to continue simmering in my mind. It’s such a stark contrast to busy metropolitan life in London that I can’t get enough soaking in the peace and quiet, feeling in tune with nature. In my Utah themed abstract artworks, I used layers of blues to hint at the sky and water, contrasted with bright orange and white for sun, reflections, and red canyon rock.
When space gets seriously cluttered, I need to take a break and rearrange everything again until I feel ‘zen’.
Mostly I have been touched by the energy and positiveness of people living along the sunny coast, i.e. in California or Southern Europe. The glass half-full rather than half-empty; where life’s obstacles provide opportunity rather than difficulty. The belief is that there are endless possibilities to shape one’s life in a fulfilling way. Colours and shapes are often naively young – for the ‘young at heart’.
This is certainly a strange time for the world, with many in self-isolation. How are you finding this time with regards to making art and maintaining creative motivation and inspiration?
The art community has adapted amazingly well. Working from my studio at home, I am starting to dream of a much more spacious place to create and store my artworks! Fortunately, the weather is great, and I can expand into the garden. For me, this time has been surprisingly peaceful, slower paced and internally resourceful. The pressure of deadlines has lifted and the creative mind can explore as it pleases!
The internet and social media, of course, are a big inspiration, and spending time outside (i.e. on a run through the park or along the Thames).
KBS UT Canyons II
What can we do in the art world to help each other during this time?
The art world is doing an amazing job at supporting each other right now, with some artists selling their art at a discounted price online to generate funds to support the less fortunate. Many exhibitions and classes are available online, and often for free. The internet is helping people stay in communication and helping people to continue to sell – I am truly impressed!
How do you like to work? Do you have any art rituals?
I usually stick to one theme for a while and produce a few artworks and then go back to the same theme again. I tend to work on 2-3 artworks at a time, applying multiple layers. I mix medium and like to explore the reactions on my artwork. Space & light are important to me. I struggle to work in the dark and when space gets seriously cluttered, I need to take a break and rearrange everything again until I feel ‘zen’.
I continue ‘writing chapters’ until I feel the story is told.
What are some of your favourite pieces and why?
‘Lake Powell after sunset’ is one of my favourites as emotionally it captures my memories and visually it has interesting subdued layers and contrasting shapes and colours.
‘Urban Night Purple’ is another favourite – one of my first mono screen prints. There are lots of architecturally fascinating skyscrapers with enormous glass facades in London, reflecting light and images around. This was my expression of how I experienced it.
‘Memories I’ is a glimpse of visual memories from growing up in Germany in a design & décor mix of Nordic purism vs Chinese playfulness. My German mother was born in China during an expatriate assignment of my grandparents. The Asian furniture and décor ended up in our home in Northern Germany – a very unusual mix at the time. The final resin layer makes the colours pop and the shapes float in space.
‘Pool’ is full of things to discover. Peaceful big shapes against luscious layered and collaged vegetation, as well as a celebration of colours and contrasts. I painted it as part of my ‘Berlin’ series, but it is really an escape from the busy-ness of the city and its historic reminders.
What are your hopes and dreams as an artist…
I love being part of the art community; it’s inspiring to meet so many different people through this journey. In terms of dreams, having a spacious, light studio and regular exhibitions of my works with great partners are right up on the list of my dreams. People buying and loving my work and knowing that my art radiates a positive vibe in their homes fills me with great pleasure and a motivation to do more.
What can we look out for with your art?
I am currently working on a monoprint series called ‘Love the Day’. I love strong reds and pinks against few contrasting colours in a loosely layered landscape; it lets your imagination travel whilst being ‘cotton balled’ in happy hues. In parallel I am continuing to work on ‘Memories’ – 60 cm x 60 cm mixed media canvas works, layers of paints and collage with a resin finish to intensify the colours. The prints are 40 x 40 cm on 60 x 60 paper and look great as a single artwork or a group of squares.
The lockdown makes it impossible to go to the screen-printing studio right now, but it is an opportunity to look around for inspiration. As soon as we are allowed to travel again, I would love to go back to Utah and create new memories and more abstract artworks.
To view more of Kira’s work:
Other platforms/ social channels: SaatchiArt