Artist of our region: KOHLENE HENDRICKSON – INSPIRED ABSTRACT FIGURATION

I had the pleasure of meeting Kohlene few years ago in the area. I felt first attracted by her art workshops and then seduced by her abstract figurative paintings in large format completely made in noble materials, which makes them smell heavenly! I got to know this colourful woman and artist better when I invited her to join me sponsoring and exhibiting at the ART culinary event organized by Cesar Ritz in Le Bouveret in 2016. Nowadays I had the pleasure of inviting her again to exhibit at the Cultural Space in Vouvry, where you can enjoy her art together with Paul Estier’s glass and steel sculptures until the 18th of March 2018.

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Kohlene Hendrickson is a native Californian, who moved to Switzerland in 2000 where she has found “home” in the enchanted village of Romainmôtier.  She studied Fine Arts at the Otis Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles. She worked for 12 years as an illustrator and art director, then returned to fine arts by studying fresco with Frederico Vigil and continued her study of fresco in Italy. She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the USA and in Europe (France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria). Her large nude drawings have been on the highly successful television series Will & Grace filmed in Los Angeles, as well as other TV productions.

Kohlene was a grant recipient by the NEW YORK COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS; She was awarded the “Grand Prix Europeo Albrecht Dürer” by the Accademia Gentilizia Il Marzocco of Florence for her painting AWAKENING in 2012.

Attracted to ancient painting techniques, the quality of their know-how and the pure essence of the natural materials (beeswax, resin, lime, sand, pigments, wood and water), this artist manages to transmit us passion and movement through her abstract figurative painting.

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Meeting the artist

How did you start painting? What motivated you to paint?

As a child, drawing and colouring was my favourite thing to do. I was already submersed in art in high school but chose to go to Fashion Design school thinking it was a more practical career to be able to support myself. My first year in design school one of the teachers pulled me aside and said you’re an illustrator more than a designer. At age 22 I met an artist that decided to mentor me. He felt I had something special and took me under his wing privately for 2 years without paying him. In my 20’s I was always running around as a freelance illustrator and designer to make a living, but finally got more serious about fine arts in my 30’s.

What are your feelings and emotions when you are creating?

I love the thrill of surprises with colour and textures… I’m pouring the first layers of my work so there is a certain amount of control but also the magic of how colours mix and flow and find their own pathways of expression going beyond the watermarks I’ve laid down. I also feel free and dynamic. I love the feeling of the painting coming to life, creating something that didn’t exist before.

Why do you like to use old painting techniques and noble materials?

I like natural materials and good craftsmanship. I don’t like oil, takes too long to dry and sticky to paint on. Acrylic is too plastic for me. I love the richness of the natural materials and with encaustic (pigmented beeswax) it dries immediately but can be reworked endlessly. When I started fresco it was because I love transparent colour. Watercolour on paper wasn’t enough for me. Creating limestone and painting it with natural pigments has much more presence and longevity. Fresco led me to encaustics. It was many years of experimentation before I developed the mixed technique of watercolour and wax, being able to seal and enhance the colors with the wax kept it brilliant and allowed me to keep the lightness and transparency of the watercolours.

What are your upcoming exhibitions?

I’ll exhibit in ROSSCINBARO gallery in Rome, Italy, from April 10 to June 10th, 2018.
Then in the art3f salon in Cannes, in July 27, 28, 29. That’s what I have lined up for now.

Are you providing art workshops in the area?

Yes! The next is March 24th for adults in Romainmôtier, INTUITIVE ART PAINTING celebrating the Equinox. Then April 21st for adults, Photo Transfer onto encaustic wax. I will probably do a kids and family Art & Nature workshop in May. Have to pick the date (a Sunday). For summer, Kids Art Camps in Clarens the month of July, and Basel the 2nd week of August.

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Meeting the woman

When you arrived to Switzerland what did attire your attention first?

The kind of projects I wanted to be involved in. Artists for Peace at the United Nations, Artists for Human Rights… That’s what brought me to Switzerland. Then I was fascinated with the art scene in Geneva with so many artists having free (squat) ateliers! CRAZY. I also love the multi-cultures of Switzerland.

What do you like the most about living in Switzerland?

Switzerland has always been kind, generous and welcoming to me. I’ve heard of others not having such a warm experience. I constantly meet wonderful people. I also love being in a “CITY” but with a view of the Alps, lake and the beautiful surrounding nature. It’s very peaceful for me. I had several bad things happen in Los Angeles. There was always something to fear. I’m calm here and love many things about Switzerland. The village I live in (Romainmôtier) is enchanting with the energy, forests, pristine spring water and history. It beckons artists to come live here. It has a great community, with relatively short distances to several major cities.

What do you like the least?

Limitations in my professional career. It has a smallness when it comes to the art world, even though it is the host of the great ART BASEL. It’s also very difficult and expensive to cross the borders with my art, as it’s not part of the EU. I turn down many international exhibition offers because of this. And… Winter is long!

What are your daily pleasures?

One of my daily pleasures is the fresh morning air walking my dog in the countryside, being greeted by many animals. Also, sharing good times, BBQ’s, music with my neighbours whom are all interesting talented people. Though my drive to work is long, the view of the lake, vineyards and the Alps is breath taking. I also really love working with children, teaching art. I never had children of my own and I love their energy and creative brilliance.

You can see Kohlene Hendrickson’s art at the Cultural Space in Vouvry until 18 March 2018.

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Current exhibition: Espace Culturel – Grande Rue 20, 1896 Vouvry

Atelier: Route de Vaulion 23, 1323 Romainmôtier – Switzerland
+41 79 360 74 09 / kohlene@kohlene.com

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