Last Saturday, White Walls Gallery held an opening reception for Augustine Kofie’s show “Retrofitted and Other Forms of Vintage Futurism”, the first solo show for the artist at the San Francisco gallery. Kofie’s aesthetic, which often focuses on complex geometric line work and a muted, earthy color palette, is particularly distinct for its draftsmen like precision. Each angle is sharp, each line is exact. That said, even though each element within the composition is meticulously precise, the way he layers and combines things still feels spontaneous. It’s like he’s playing and experimenting with the various components trying to find a balance.
Augustine Kofie, also known as Kofie one is a self taught artists and innovative graffiti writer from Los Angeles. His unique artistic style transitions well from street walls to gallery canvases, which is why he is well respected by many people. The works for this exhibition are comprised of acrylic and spray paint on canvas, found paper/mixed media on wood and found-wood sculptures. He also did two installations, one was a mural painted directly on the gallery walls and the second was a recreation of his studio in Los Angeles. The studio installation is significant because Kofie has mentioned in several interviews that his surroundings and environment directly impact his art work “I like to keep my environment very similar to my work, it all tends to tie in.”
A reoccurring theme in Kofie’s artwork is this interest in looking back in time for inspiration. This motif manifests itself in several ways for this body of work. First, you can see the inspiration several art historical styles have had on him, particularly as the title of the show suggests, Futurism and more specifically Futurist Architecture. Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It was characterized by an enthusiastic obsession with technology, particularly with its potential to be powerful, fast and dangerous. Futurist artists such as Umberto Boccioni tried to capture the dynamic movement and energy they saw in new technologies such as cars and trains. Though Kofie’s artwork does not address the same technology driven themes as the Futurists, he does work in a similar visual vocabulary which uses dynamic lines and shapes. Kofie even mentions on his site that Futurist Architect
Antonio Sant’Elia is a specific source of inspiration. Another way that Kofie finds inspiration in the Past is in his use of found objects and discarded items. Many of the canvas pieces include found pieces of paper or cardboard including old VRC sleeves and images from 60’s or 70’s instruction manuals.
All of these interests coalesce into an aesthetic style that is distinct to Augustine Kofie. His art work extensively looks to the past for inspiration but he is able to reinterpret and rearrange elements to create something unique and fresh. “Retrofitted and Other Forms of Vintage Futurism” will be on view until November 6th at White Walls Gallery located at 835 Larkin St, San Francisco. Check out the gallery’s website for hours: http://www.whitewallssf.com/ For more information about Kofie check out his site: http://www.keepdrafting.com
by Maggie Pike for Warholian.com
(In addition to writing for Warholian, Maggie Pike also runs the website Gone Tomorrow SF which covers the world of San Francisco Street Art. Check it out here: http://GoneTomorrowSF.com )