Dutch painter, Ralf Kokke, presents a series of new works in the Hans Alf Gallery project room. The show entitled "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" is Kokke's first Scandinavian solo exhibition.
Ralf Kokke was born into a family of dockworkers in Rotterdam-Zuid; an area and a culture, which exists almost as an autonomous enclave in the populous Dutch port city. His humble beginnings and the tough work environment of the harbor have had a huge influence on his visual language, which is best described as social realist.
In Kokke’s works one almost always finds crouched, stocky, crippled people, whose bodies bear witness of years of laborious wear and repetition. It is the little man, who is portrayed; the guy who bikes to work every day in all kinds of weather; the guy who works fifty hours a week with heavy, dangerous machinery and smokes and drinks a bit too much; the guy who gets calloused hands and arthritic joints and dies long before the mean.
But even though Kokke’s universe may seem harsh and unrelenting, his subjects are portrayed with great affection and empathy. The people in Ralf Kokke’s paintings may very well lead lives in the vicinity of society’s floor, but their gazes are full of life and resolve, and the situations, in which they are frozen, seem to have always been chosen with tenderness and care, to show the individual in the exact moment that he or she leaves the unison song of the mass, and becomes visible to us as an independent entity.
Ralf Kokke is a graduate of The Royal Academy of Fine Art in Antwerp. He lives and works in Rotterdam. "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" is Kokke’s first solo exhibition in Denmark.