After enjoying the playful but melancholic imagery on Ralf Kokke‘s Instagram, we were curious to experience his practice and technique in person, so we dropped by his studio to check out his latest paintings.
In love with the traditional medium, Kokke received a BFA in Painting from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where he shared that appreciation, as well as a contemporary painterly scene. He maintains a strong connection to the city, especially through Showhouse JayJay, a gallery space founded with his friend and colleague Heidi Ukkonen.
Currently inspired by Dutch expressionism, especially the work of Frits Van den Berghe, Kokke enjoys creating figurative works that tease “normal” life. Through purposely naive representations of characters, surrounding objects and, sometimes, typographic elements, his images contrast reality, depicting scenes with deliberate unsophistication. From eating cherries and playing sports to simply interacting, the artist portrays subjects as guileless in both physical and conceptual sense.
Kokke’s loose approach to everything from the depiction of depth, perspective and light, lend a related feeling to the exciting brushwork and textured packaging. Employing the authenticity in his process and intuition from creative visions, Kokke imparts subtle humor in a consistent color palette. He later mixes ingredients, such as egg and chalk, with his acrylics, dimming the hues to achieve a rich, rougher texture and melancholic mood all for the better to savor his dreamy design. –Sasha Bogojev