Ken Hogrefe’s new solo show EDGES with The Art House Gallery features work on paper, a departure from Ken’s characteristically bold, large-format oil paintings. The impetus for the change was a desire “to find out what’s in that space I haven’t discovered yet, and that space is usually beyond the boundary.” Lonely Ocean had a virtual studio visit with Hogrefe to discuss the ideas and inspiration behind this new body of work.
EDGES is comprised of two series of work: “Painting through the Plague” and “Painting in Three Dimensions.” Hogrefe documented the development of the new work in a sketchbook, and as he progressed through studies to the final resolved work, Hogrefe found a solution in simplicity.
Hogrefe reflected on the importance on documenting the progress. He could see the work moving toward simplicity but getting to that point of leaving blank spaces was a challenge and something he had to very consciously think about. Interestingly, Hogrefe linked this artistic idea to the historical moment.
I can take lessons from this time. It’s a unique time in politics and the state of the world with COVID. We have had this opportunity, I call it an invitation, to ask what do I really need in my life? I was very consciously thinking about that as I was developing the work — how can I pull back as much as possible and still have a painting?Ken Hogrefe, 2020
These images were made with watercolor, gouache. highly pigmented pastels, and ink. But a key aspect of this work was the use of paper as a design element. Hogrefe chose heavy rag paper, mulberry paper, and Japanese Unryu paper. One artist that particularly inspired his experimentation with work on paper is Kitty Sabatier a French artist based in Toulouse.
I was looking at Kitty Sabatier quite a bit as I started to work on paper. Not that I set out to copy her, but she had a lot of ideas that I found intriguing. Her work is that way quite exquisite, beautifully composed, it’s subtle, there is just a lot there.Ken Hogrefe, 2020
The second series of work included in the EDGES show is “Painting in Three Dimensions.” This series explores the idea of disrupting the “sacred rectangle” that is the basis of conventional “portrait” or “landscape” formats. Hogrefe notes that the use of the diptych and triptych formats got him to the place of searching for another way to visually communicate. That brought him to experiment with mixed media and collage and to literally “break the frame.”
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