With a deep interest in process and structure, Augustine Kofie (b. 1973) creates works of intense detail centering order and tension in both his studio pieces and mural interventions. The precision of Kofie’s “drafted” art is inspired by mechanical drafting and the language of modern architecture and uses the paper detritus of the 20th century as building blocks. In his quest for balance, Kofie harmonizes opposing and contradictory dynamics, setting futuristic compositions against vintage earth-toned palettes and creating technically complex, meticulously structured formations through handmade line-work and layering.  Active in the west Los Angeles graffiti scene since the mid-nineties, the artist’s work reflects the influence of the craft of deconstructing lettering, street culture, contemporary music, and 1960s-70s iconography to create a unique language.

Recent exhibitions include: MKNZM, Swinton Gallery, Madrid; Build From Memory, Openspace Gallery, Paris; INVENTORY, Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York & SCRATCH, Getty Research Institute, ESMuseum of Art, Los Angeles.

Kofie has been featured in Juxtapoz, Graffiti Art Magazine, The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti, Le Petit Voyeur and VNA Magazine 26.  His work is in both national and international private collections.

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Vintage Futurism by Rafael Schacter

Growing up in both East Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles, the colour and form of his work were innately impacted by the West Coast urbanity he was surrounded by.

Future and past collide and shatter. The hitherto and hereafter fragmenting, fracturing, before slowly cascading down and consolidating within our present.

You can almost smell the past in them. The scent of stacked papers, filed away for years. The smell of estate sales and vintage ephemera. And yet in the very same moment, you can also see something, perceive something of the future. Something unknown. Something yet to come. Or is this perhaps the future as seen from days gone by? Is it the present-day as looked at from the past?

This practice of “Vintage Futurism”, as he has termed it, is central to Augustine Kofie’s work. With its soft earth-tones and heritage palette, its collagist application of the fugitive, fleeting material culture of a bygone era, Kofie’s work brings the recent American past firmly into the current day. Yet with his concurrent obsession for drafts and architectural renderings, for the geometrical building blocks of the everyday, this dreamy West Coast style coalesces into this unique, retro-futuristic aesthetic. An aesthetic that transforms the mathematical into the organic. A soulful abstraction in which the healer and hustler are combined.

Kofie was born to work like this. Growing up in both East Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles, the colour and form of his work were innately impacted by the West Coast urbanity he was surrounded by. The duality of the art deco architecture - the neighbourhoods separated by freeways and huge linear cement structures - and the city’s hazy, washed-out tones. The sun-faded bleaching. The overcast skies, the pollutive smog. Yet this dualist nature emerges not only through Kofie’s geographic origins, but so too from his familial history. From the influence of his structured, business-wise father and his creative, artistic mother. From his Choctaw and Creole paternal roots and his Scottish and Irish maternal ones. The collision of the opposites. The fusion of variance.
The ability Kofie has to bring these disparate links together is evidenced by this book, an opportunity for Kofie to show the world the evolution, the transition of his practice. To show how he came to be where he is now. Many early images which have never been printed before thus appear here. Images showing his movement from his early 90s character based work - an illustrative practice emerging from the culture of comics and skateboarding – to his later architectural style of letter formation – his Robotech, Macross, Japanese science-fictional style. The images show how Kofie came to merge these two techniques, how each period pushed him to where he now stands; his illustrative background meaning that his line work was always razor sharp, his way of working letters as if they were buildings leading to his architectonic stylings. Of course, there were also more formal influences, even whilst Kofie’s artistic education emerged purely through his practice in the street (through, as he terms it, self-motivated learning). Influences such as the Russian Suprematist El Lissitzky and the Los Angeles legend Ed Moses. Such as the Neo-Futurist Syd Mead and the architect and artist Lebbeus Woods. Yet all these came second to Kofie’s base desire to keep learning, to keep pushing, to keep exploring. His yearning to keep experimenting, keep dissecting, keep drafting.

All that history is seen here. All those influences on display. The nostalgic yearning and the assured expectancy. The wistfulness and the anticipation. All of Kofie’s history. All the history he situates in his work. And so too all his future. Housed within the pages of this book as within every artwork he completes.
 
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