Breeze Block Gallery presents: Three The Hard Way: Augustine Kofie / Jerry Joker Inscoe / Christopher Derek Bruno Three-person exhibition curated by Sven Davis Breeze Block Gallery Portland OR. 7 November – 30 November 2013
For the month of November, Breeze Block Gallery is very proud to present Three The Hard Way; a three-person exhibition featuring Augustine Kofie, Jerry Joker Inscoe and Christopher Derek Bruno.
All three artists come from a graffiti background, and are firmly established members of the pioneering Transcend graffiti collective. These highly versatile artists are equally known for their large-scale mural projects, as well as their own very individual voices in a gallery setting. Traditional letterforms are abstracted into geometric configurations within their work; and dimension, form and space are considered and explored within their dynamic compositions. Their collective approach to art-making is steeped in academic discourse, and whilst retaining the vibrancy of their graffiti backgrounds, traditional art movements such as Futurism, Abstract Expressionism and Precisionism are also embraced by the visual vocabulary imbued within their work. The exhibition title itself is a literal reference to the historical terminology Hard-Edge painting; which was first coined in the late fifties and used to describe intense and abrupt delineation of color within the burgeoning Geometric Abstraction and Op-art movements. Whilst these artists acknowledge and embrace movements of the past, they confidently stand outside of historical classification and have established themselves as a core group of protagonists defining a contemporary movement they have made their own.
Whilst the three artists have shown together previously in larger group exhibitions, Three The Hard Way is the first time that this trifecta has shown together in a collaborative environment. For the month of November the three artists will take over both of Breeze Block’s gallery spaces for an installation that incorporates the full range of multi-facetted oeuvres from each of these influential creators.
The exhibition opens at Breeze Block Gallery in Portland on Thursday 7th November 2013 6-10pm. All three artists will be present.
About Augustine Kofie Inspired by the basic building blocks of the geometric world, Augustine Kofie has formed a retro-futuristic aesthetic which transplants these shapes and angles into a soulful, organic, yet highly mathematical form of abstraction. Merging his traditional graffiti education, his inclination toward “certain colour forms and certain application techniques”, with his deep love of illustration and preliminary design, his fondness for “drafts, architectural renderings and pre-production concepts”, Kofie plays with form and line, with balance and depth, twisting and manipulating his murals, his illustrations, his compositions, into ever new and dramatic arrangements.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kofie’s instinct to draw was cultivated through the creativity of his mother. Whilst she was studying fine arts at UCLA, Kofie was using the supplies that lay around his house to start experimenting on his own, he starting to excel in drawing by the time he had reached middle school. Whilst his art education never went further than high school, Kofie’s real training was garnered through his time spent painting graffiti, he coming to prominence in the Los Angeles graffiti scene by the mid 1990s. Giving him an extensive understanding of both “colour and layering, points of perspective and arrangement”, graffiti not only gave Kofie his technical foundation however, it also provided the underpinning for his love of construction and form: Through drafting and sketching wildstyle pieces, “stretching the letters out and rebuilding them, giving them varied points of perspective and basically building shapes out”, Kofie began to understand the architectural basis of writing, an understanding pushing him to focus on the linear rather than alphabetic aspects of his work. Having also felt that he had made an honest contribution to the LA graffiti scene, Kofie’s evolutionary drive meant he soon began to “distort and manipulate” his work, attempting to “re-contribute and redistribute something new”.
Developing his aesthetic into an almost pure abstraction then, dominated by the simple squares, triangles and circles that make up our structural universe, Kofie’s relentless desire to experiment and explore his visual surroundings meant he was forced to engage in a constant test of his own mind-set and preconceived ideas, each work an attempt to find a geometrical solution to a graphical problem. Putting his entire soul into his work, into his craft, Kofie has thus formed an intensely layered, earthy, dynamic style of contemporary muralism, an illustrative practice which digs deep and looks forward, a practice which surveys the future and the past at very the same time.
About Christopher Derek Bruno Christopher Derek Bruno is a maker above all other things. After his education in industrial design, Derek moved about the United States cultivating his approach to the design/fabrication of furniture, and sculpture based imagery. Currently residing in his hometown of Atlanta, his recent work intends to explore the cognitive visual experience using (but not limited to) a set of 0-dimensional points bound by 1-dimensional lines, combined to make 2-d planes, organized into 3-d forms, applied to objects with the express purpose of creating a 4-dimensional relationship with someone else. A highly versatile artist, his gallery work utilises his fabrication skills along with his background as a graffiti artist and muralist to create visually arresting dimensional works.
About Jerry Inscoe At first glance, Jerry Inscoe’s gallery work appears to be a formal extension of a Deconstructivist style of typography. Letters are fragmented and sheared, stretched and re-formed with precision. It’s a science of Post-modern typographic abstraction, one that is characterized by unpredictability and controlled chaos. Born out of the mid-eighties Graffiti scene in Washington DC, Jerry’s work evolved over the years and matured, shifting from the early New York-influenced models to a more abstract and idealistic take on what Graffiti could be. He incorporated aspects of his undergraduate design education and a myriad of other influences into his work, including architecture and industrial design. This infused Jerry with the desire to create highly original work. A pioneer of the post-graffiti scene, he is the leader of the Transcend Collective – an abstract graffiti crew that established an experimental aesthetic. He is now based in Portland, Oregon.
About Transcend Started by Joker (from Washington DC) and Carl123 (from Manchester, UK) in 1990, Transcend is an artists collective whose sole purpose is to constantly evolve, and break personal ground. Originality is most important but the pursuit of constant progression is also important in reaching their goals. Those early years saw the Transcend collective consist of Joker, Carl123, SheOne, Req, Persue and Felon. A few years later, Poesia joined Transcend, followed by Mune, Kema, Ouija and photographer Anna Antik in the late nineties. UK based O.Two, fittingly; brought Transcend into the 21st century, and more recently Augustine Kofie, Duncan Jago and Christopher Derek Bruno were inducted into the group to continue to push the boundaries that Transcend has become known for.
While most established artists who started out in graffiti move on to something more pictorial, Augustine Kofie’s evolution went in the other direction. The artist, inspired by the geometry of letterforms early on, abstracted the building blocks of graffiti until there was no semantic meaning left, leaving us with geometric forms that faintly echo the structure of the letterform. Kofie’s work takes from the avant-garde of the past century. While his color palette of mustard yellows and mossy greens evokes 1970s kitsch, his geometric forms, mapped out with mathematical precision, recall the high-velocity compositions of Futurists like Kazimir Malevich. Augustine Kofie will be in a three-person show, “Three the Hardway,” alongside Jerry “Joker” Inscoe and Christopher Derek Bruno, opening November 7 at Breeze Block Gallery in Portland. The three artists are members of the Transcend graffiti collective and share a mutual love for geometric abstraction. Take a look at some shots from Kofie’s studio by Sunny Phono below.
Today's the last day of the hugely successful Three the Hard Way exhibition featuring Augustine Kofie, Jerry Inscoe and Christopher Derek Bruno at Breeze Block Gallery. If you're in Portland, its your last chance to check it out for yourself...
Some very kind words on the show from Graffuturism:
Three The Hard Way opened last week at Portland’s Breeze Block Gallery. The exhibition curated by Sven Davis of Arrested Motion featured recent works from Augustine Kofie, Jerry Inscoe and Christopher Derek Bruno. Besides having a common interest in the geometric and linear aesthetics, the 3 are also all members of the Transcend Collective, a group Jerry started in 1990. Sven did an excellent job of curating this exhibition bridging the aesthetics with a common collective that weaves the trio together in a broader conversation. Being able to see all three artists work exhibited together is significant, 3 generations of writers who have all individually made a name for themselves in the past and present. This exhibition might may resemble your traditional art show with some great works, yet because of the range that these artists cover and will cover in the future historically, I tend to view the show as more of a survey. This exhibition covers so much territory with the 3 artists…. Jerry the pioneer, Kofie, considered one of today’s top artists, and Christopher Derek Bruno, the rising star who will I am sure be the future. Although we can categorize the artists in past, present, and future tenses, Three The Hard Way shows us that these artists are all just hitting their stride and have much more to show us. Besides the remarkable individual pieces from the artists the highlight of the exhibition has to be the collaborative installation that shows just how in tune these artists are with each other as well as taking over a space. We hope anyone in or near Portland, Oregon takes the time to see this show before it comes down November 30th, you wont be let down.