Chiharu Shiota Nail Art

Manicure inspired by Chiharu Shiota (Japan). Photo courtesy of Susi Kenna.

As the art world heads to Italy this week for the opening of the 2015 Venice Biennale, Susi Kenna founder of Nail Art History—the blog that explores Modern and Contemporary art through manicures—and nail artist Mei Kawajiri are turning Kenna’s nails into miniature pavilions. Over the last few weeks, Kenna’s fingertips have featured tributes to the 88 artists who have been chosen to represent the participating countries. “The Venice Biennale is one of the art world's most important events, and the artists selected to participate are considered at the top of their game,”says Kenna, who is an assistant director of social media at a public relations and marketing firm that represents galleries and art fairs. “I’m inspired by a lot of the artists showing this year; Joan Jonas is iconic and Chiharu Shiota’s work is equal parts disturbing and fascinating,” says Kenna, whose nails featured Shiota’s “Dialogue with Absence” and Jonas’ 1969 “Mirror Performance.” Kenna and Kawajiri’s high concept manicures have also celebrated Damir Očko, Danh Vō, and Sarkis. “I help Mei uncover some of the complex forms the artists use and mix all of the custom colors for the gel polish,” says Kenna, staring at her yellow Marco Maggi-inspired talons.

Kenna’s began using her nails to explore the history of art a few years ago, when curator Rita Pinto suggested she try more creative manicures. Soon after, Kenna teamed up with Kawajiri, who has been painting nails for 13 years. Since then, Nail Art History has covered everyone from Picasso to Basquiat to Yayoi Kusama to George Condo. “I absolutely love the ongoing challenge of looking deep into the world of art and discovering work that I want to celebrate and share,” she says.

For nail art inspiration or to see Kenna’s latest high concept manicure visit Nail Art History.