The 2019 art[squared] Fundraiser will feature the work of three local artists sold through silent auction.
Hawk Alfredson was born in Örebro, Sweden in 1960. He moved to New York City in 1995, where he for many years lived and painted in the fabled Chelsea Hotel. Louisville businessman Gill Holland encountered him there and began enlarging his private collection with Alfredson’s work. When the rising cost of living in NYC became a challenge, Holland introduced the painter to Louisville’s Portland neighborhood, and Alfredson arrived in early 2018.
The life of an artist is unpredictable. Free from the day-to-day grind of business is but a dream for many, but to create is to carve out one’s own space in the universe. It requires little to conjure up the cliché of the bohemian lifestyle with which artists are often characterized: wooly-headed anarchists or anti-social thugs railing against the ruling class and the government.
In truth, the artists who actually live the life work very hard. Many get up early and are diligent about maintaining a studio practice each and every day – a regular workweek not unlike any laborer. But the muse can be a cruel partner, lighting out for other environs with little or no warning. It makes a life in art an endless adventure, and sometimes a move is exactly what is required.
An examination of Alfredson’s earlier work finds, compositions of complex structures of people and objects teeming with unrest and curiosity. The surrealistic images merge profound psychological and social disruption that suggest violence but don’t depict it. In the best surrealist tradition, Alfredson explores the conflicts that struggle within the human consciousness. They do not occupy any specific place in history or geography, although the “Northern-European quality” comes through. As dark as they are, there is also an important touch of whimsy at work here, a crucial counter-balance of emotions.
In other paintings Alfredson has conjured up simpler pictures of singular individuals. The religious aspect of the staging – and I choose that word deliberately because of the highly theatrical attitudes he employs, remind us of altar pieces and depictions of beautified saints and martyrs. Is Alfredson imagining the divine when he echoes such iconography? With the passing years, the artist feels less obligated to explain himself, but a recent artist’s statement illustrates his thinking:
“When I begin a painting, I have no definitive destination. Rather, while I work I encourage subliminal ideas and cosmic forces to collaborate with the process. What I am hoping to achieve when I paint is a sense of mystery and beauty - I wish to create a vision that not even I, the creator, fully understands. I usually describe my imagery as Magic Realism. I want to transport the viewer into an altered state of consciousness where she or he may be inclined to experience who they truly are when they are free of mundane thoughts. My paintings act as mirrors or Rorschach tests; the viewer perceiving the images filtered through their own reality.”
Now, as we see in his painting for Louisville Visual Art’s 2019 Art[squared] event, landscape has risen to a greater prominence, or at least the infinite horizon. Alfredson’s work grows less and less populated over his career until we are left almost alone in a primitive landscape, almost as if the artist has been regressing through the past in search of the beginning of life on earth.
In 2006, Art & Antiques Magazine proclaimed Mr. Alfredson as "one of the most collectible of the European Contemporary Surrealists of the new Century".
Alfredson’s prestigious list of exhibits includes The Katonah Museum (in a group show curated by Thelma Golden of The Whitney Museum), Japan's Prefectoral Museum in Tokyo, New York's Alternative Museum, Australia's Regional Art Museum in Orange, NSW, and the historic Nordiska Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. Gallery exhibitions can be counted in the hundreds and include the destinations Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boca Raton, Boston and Baltimore along with his frequent showings throughout New York City.
In addition, his presence in The Chelsea Hotel placed him in various film and video projects about the historic location, most notably Abel Ferrara's documentary, "Chelsea on the Rocks", which features Alfredson speaking candidly on his, at times, shocking experiences while living and painting within the walls of the Chelsea.
Other films to include Hawk's original artwork, courtesy of Film Art L.A.: "Ocean's 13" (Warner Bros.), "Mystery Men" (Universal Pictures) and "I AM LEGEND" (Warner Bros).
Alfredson is scheduled to have a solo show in August at Craft(s) Gallery in Louisville.
Hometown: Örebro, Sweden
Education: Fetco's School of Fine Arts (now Konstskolan i Stockholm); advanced classes in formal painting at Pernby's Målarskola in Stockholm
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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved. In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.