present/ Review by Kristen Beaulieu

Ken Hogrefe Solo Exhibition

present\ by Ken Hogrefe

Solo Exhibition, Exclusively online at The Art House Gallery

February 2022

Curated by Rebecca George

A review by Kristen Beaulieu

The human mind so dwells comfortably in the memories of the past and the dreams of the future that the present moment often slips by unnoticed. Hogrefe writes that his new exhibition present/ is a result of painting "what is in front of the eyes not what's in my mind," a disciplined attempt to observe without comparison to what was or what could be. The result is a very strong, very coherent body of work. These abstract works are rendered in gouache, pastel and paper collage, and they feature gestural marks, layering, and a palette that emphasizes tones of green, blue, and violet.


Hogrefe divides this work into series based on technique and tempo; aperture\ created with gesture and speed, while obscure\ was built with layering and contemplation. The aperture\ paintings share a bold, dynamic yet delicate quality that benefits from the elongated vertical format. In particular, aperture\one, 2021 and aperture\four, 2021 share a certain rhythm and work together beautifully as a diptych. The obscure\ paintings are mostly square in format. While obscure\f is more meditative, others, like obscure\ b, 2021 share the dynamism of the aperture\ series. Some of these, notably obscure\a, 2021 and obscure\c, 2021, are even light-hearted and playful.


The use of the backslash in the titles of this exhibition and these works is a reference to a digital grammar. During the summer and fall of 2021, many of us started to let go of our attachments to the past as our expectations of a return to pre-pandemic life dissipated. For example, many of us embraced remote work the new normal. But all of us seemed to have moved more and more of our lives online. This new present\ is mediated of computer screens, granting new apertures\ into each other's lives but leaving other aspects obscure\. All told, Hogrefe's new process of keeping expectations and attachments at bay has yielded an impressive new body of work full of confidence and optimism.


Exhibition runs the month of February and is available in the archives thereafter. Click here to view the exhibit.