Gleny Köhnke has been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember and decided at a young age that she would be an artist. Born in Brisbane, Australia (23.10.48) she moved to Madang,
Papua New Guinea, with her family, while still a child. Her father and grandfather also had a long association with Papua New Guinea. She lived in
P.N.G. for 20 years (1960-1980) This early influence of an exciting, exotic,” last frontier” country has left an indelible mark on
Köhnke´s style and subject matter. She developed an early interest in Papua New Guinea mythology and traditions, which have continued to inspire her work for over 40 years.
Mr Vincent Eri, (first graduate from the P.N.G. University), opening her first solo exhibition in Port Moresby in 1971, said, ”I have contemplated how to classify Gleny Köhnke´s work and it doesn't fall into any category known to me; so I will call it “tropical expressionism”, through the power of which I am transported back to my village” Köhnke loved to sit at the feet of the story teller, in the thatched huts at night, by the light of the fire, listening to the age old
stories, often accompanied with spontaneous song by the story teller and his audience. Here the inspiration was born for the painting or sculpture.
The story provided a frame work but allowing individual liberty for personal expression… a springboard for the artists imagination. “Art knows no
political or geographical boundaries, but is the true expression of the artists´ relationship with her environment.” Spoken by the,
Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea, Mr Michael Somare, opening a Köhnke exhibition in Port Moresby in 1973. ( now the Rt. Hon Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, GCL, GCMG, CH, CF, KSt., Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea) From 1970 to 1980 Gleny travelled extensively throughout Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya, living in villages, recording and painting the oral traditions. These paintings were exhibited in numerous exhibitions in P.N.G. Australia and Germany.
Two books were written by her about legends, traditions and shark calling.
Click here for e-books.
Gleny left Papua New Guinea in 1980 after the birth of her first son, Juan Alexander. However, the influence that Papua New Guinea has had on her formation as an artist is clearly visible in the vibrant colours of her palette and the aura of magic in both paintings and sculpture.
SPANISH WORKS Gleny moved to Malaga, Spain in January
1988 and worked intensively on the theme of the Osborne bull. This is an
enormous, plain black silhouette of a bull which can be seen dotting the
Spanish landscape. As it has no wording on it, she saw it as a large
sculpture representing an aspect of Spanish culture. This subject,
combined with a fascination for the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca, led
to the production of a series of mono print paintings. These works were
painted directly onto a large slab of marble in oil, a single impression
was taken on Arches paper and then worked with fine Indian ink lines.
This series was later compiled into a small legend book “Why the Bull is
on the Hillside” and can be downloaded from e-books on this web site.
She then made two series of landscapes called “Montes de Malaga”
(Mountains of Malaga”) and “Narcissus in the Torcal”. These series
proved to be a very challenging and rewarding experience, not having
previously painted much landscape.
She has always been very concerned with nature, and after a trip to
Africa, she became very worried about animal conservation on the African
continent. Her “African Animals” paintings, are a direct response to
She has furthered her investigation into welded metal sculpture, in
Spain, and has depicted both Papua New Guinea and Spanish themes, some
of which have been cast in bronze.