An interview with artist Jurgen Dunhofen discussing his art.
Header image credit Johan Ahn
Why did you start making art?
Art has always been a way for me to communicate. It’s a way of conveying my underlying thoughts, and through expressing my ideas and emotions I feel a sense of catharsis and resolution.
I have had many positive influences but my high school art teacher, Mrs Van Wyk, was the first major influence. She would encourage me to express myself freely and always motivated me to develop the work to its full potential. She helped me understand that by dedicating time to the work I could help it grow and evolve. Through this I was able to discover that I have all the resources I need in my proverbial toolbox.
How would you describe your art?
It falls into the category of Installation Art. My objectives for each project are different and I incorporate drawings and sculptures into one installation. I add earth elements at times too. Grass and soil add a subtle naturalness to the work.
The drawings have an abstract expressionistic quality to them, mixing swaths of ink with fine marks drawn with a micron pen. My sculptures are often made up of lenses, wood and metal.
What inspires you to create the art that you do?
I’m inspired by everything I see and absorb. Other people’s unique views serve as a litmus test when regarding my own limited vision and perspective. This lapse in a universal understanding of the way we experience the world is a valuable driver for the work. I’m also inspired by nature; everything that grows and has a story influences my work.
Who are some of your favorite artists, and why?
Khehla Chepape Makgato is an artist who has left a lasting impression on me. His work is evidence of his insight into South African culture and how he seeks to understand his subjects and people in general. He is also an advocate for truth and shows this in his work by displaying his work uncensored.
Another influential artist is Oh Wanseok. I once walked over one of his installations by mistake and was really embarrassed. He was really nice about it though and kindly pointed out what I had done. He streamlines ideas like no other individual that I know and is a deep thinker.
Do you have any formal training in art?
I studied at UCT at the Michaelis School of Fine Art and received a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts. At some point though all artists are self taught as you develop and learn new skills.
It’s also important to mention that I have been influenced by fellow artists and mentors throughout the years and their impact on me and my art career is invaluable. My level of appreciation for all the guidance that has been imparted cannot be fully expressed here.
Any upcoming exhibitions, plans, projects?
Over the last year, I have been working on a project called “The See Through Project” dealing with sensory experiences. I have always been interested in perception, focusing mostly on vision as a starting point. Incorporating conversations about the effects of refractive eye disorders and reliance on sound and touch to navigate the world, I hope to include other peoples’ stories while developing further research into the subject.
In addition to TSTP I have plans to study and develop some specific skills in developing lenses. And, another interesting mode of working has been my return to wood with a mallet and chisel.
I’ll definitely keep you updated on my progress!
Where would you love to see your art displayed?
Firstly, when my art hangs in a home I feel really honoured. Sometimes I see my work in various settings and I think back to the story behind the work and how it connects with its new story, its new environment.
I find that art livens up a room. Having art in your home helps tell stories about the artist but also speaks volumes about a home owner’s taste and personality. Sometimes you just really enjoy the piece of art, it lights a spark inside of you.
Secondly, I would like to exhibit in as many art museums, project spaces and publicly accessible spaces as I can. Interacting with art in an accessible environment often gives one the freedom of movement not only to allow space to interpret the work but also to enjoy the work as it can be installed to its full capability. My wish is to allow a platform for viewers to have various guided and unguided experiences.
See Jurgen Dunhofen bio for more on his art