Those who enjoy the seamless and simplified branding of Huffer might just enjoy a current solo exhibition of the work of Ken Griffen, the former artistic director of the brand who is exhibiting at Auckland’s Allpress gallery with his first solo show Face Value until 6 June.
According to Griffen's exhibition write up his work is about human experiences – “Fleeting relationships, encounters, sightings. Making brutal and instant generalisations on society under the pervasive guise of our personal perspectives”. The prints also document Griffen's meetings with strangers while travelling. “I mostly got inspired by people on trains – people with interesting faces, drunks mostly… They would come up to me and talk to me while I sat and sketched them.”
Griffen’s style is somewhat reminiscent of Picasso with his use of two-dimensional forms, bold and simplified line work and the fragmented, multi-faceted features of his subjects.
A release for the exhibition describes his style as “…loosely depicting objects with heavy and inconsistent line work and untraditional use of water colour. The style translates into different mediums such as sculpture, branding, and even tattoos – where his ongoing project ‘Darkest Water’ involves a close friend and human canvas that has unquestioningly donated their skin to Ken’s illustration and artwork.”
The release says Griffen has been involved with art since he was a child growing up in an old building on “…the infamous K’rd Road”. His mother was also an artist, so naturally from very early on he was surrounded with and involved in art and “…always felt very comfortable, actively drawing, painting, taking commissions and selling his art since he was 15.”
Griffen studied graphic design at AUT and then moved to Vancouver and New York. He returned to New Zealand and worked with ‘NO’ magazine and various agencies as a graphic designer before taking on the role of head graphic artist with clothing company Huffer where he worked on its branding, illustration and graphics as well as art direction and creative direction.
Most recently he has been working out of a studio in Kreuzburg, Berlin, the release says and constantly traveling “Ken gained inspiration from the face value of strangers adding his own visual identity and perceptions. His travels extended throughout greater Europe and North America and his first-hand impressions of faces and places progressed into drawings and paintings."