Exhibition: ROTATIONSHIPS at Heron Arts, SF

Heron Arts Gallery presents:


Opening March 12th – April 9, 2022

7 Heron St,

San Francisco, California 94103

ROTATIONSHIPS is Augustine Kofie stripped down to the essence of his practice.  Created over the past three years, the series reflects the artist’s longstanding interests in salvaging the forgotten remnants of the past and elevating these through futurist aesthetics. For years, the artist has obsessively collected, archived, and repurposed pressboard, a heavy, multi-ply paper stock used in packaging and office supplies from the 1950s to the 1980s. Previously, pressboard appears as the hidden architecture of Kofie’s collages, subsequently covered with layers of paint, ink, and spray.  In ROTATIONSHIPS, the only “paint” used is the colored pressboard itself; brushes only apply adhesive and varnish.

Even when painting, Kofie describes his process as one of building. In this series, construction is centered in a series of “rotationships,” a word the artist coined to describe his ongoing relationships with circular forms, which always represent the feminine ideal in his work, taming and controlling the more hard-edged, angular work.  Here, circles are everything—centered, interlinked, stretched into oblongs, layered transparencies—in different explorations of joining.

Kofie’s respect for pressboard stems from its durability, malleability, and shelf appeal: it can be scored, folded, coated, screen-printed, embossed, while retaining its structural integrity.  Steno notepads, file folders, album covers, industrial packaging—pressboard often packages old technologies from a predigital, bygone era.  The artist has sourced this modest refuse of the past at estate sales in the greater Los Angeles area (as well as flea markets the world over), from the homes, workshops, and garages of the elderly, who saved everything, when things were made to last.
A self-defined “compartamentalizer,” Kofie breaks his work process into phases. In his studio, the pressboard has been meticulously inventoried—archived by color palette, thickness, and category in vintage industrial file cabinets, “sometimes for years, sometimes for that day,” until they make their way into an assemblage.  The blank file folders he screen-prints himself, making his own packaging by silk-screening salvaged security envelope patterns and other half tones onto the pressboard. Using found metal circles (also sourced at estate sales) as templates and found metal objects as weights, the only contemporary material is the wood panel support.

Production is a meditative, intuitive, embodied process. Beginning with a simple pencil sketch on wood panel—a few circles, a few crosscutting lines—Kofie then lets the given selection of pressboard guide the work, manually cutting the pieces, one by one, fitting them into a section, letting each determine the one to follow. The results are reminiscent of mandalas in the way they focus our attention, calm our spirit, and center us in an abstract space, but here these are built out of the industrial arts of our recent, collective past. Even as we enjoy the perfect symmetries, we try to read the images, to decipher the past lives of what we see.  In this way, ROTATIONSHIPS is the ultimate manifestation of Kofie’s career-long commitment to salvaging the past and building it into a future. 

Curated by Heron Arts director Tova Lobatz, ROTATIONSHIPS marks Augustine Kofie’s first time showing this body of work.