One of the last openings we were able to attend in Europe before the world was placed on a much needed pause was the lovely Saturday midday opening of the latest edition of Gallery Sofie Van de Velde's and PLUS-ONE Gallery's The Wunderwall concept. Featuring works by painters Heidi Ukkonen, Ralf Kokke, and David Noro, the presentation continues the joint effort by the two galleries to present the works by young, emerging artists in between, or alongside, their main programs.

Former student colleagues from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and the founders of Showhouse JayJay, Ukkonen and Kokke have previously collaborated with Noro, who himself is now doing masters work at the same institution. With all three artists sharing a similar sense of immediacy to their work, the looseness of their visual languages, and the playfulness to their imagery, their works created a lively fusion for an exciting presentation. 


In her latest body of work, the Sweden-born Ukkonen is playing with the concept of still life and plants by adding unexpected twists. Contrasting the floral motifs against patterns and surfaces, she is also introducing the presence of a figure by depicting hands that interact with them. After focusing on metaphorizing and exaggerating life experiences previously, the works nowadays are calming down while still keeping that quirkiness.


In Kokke's work, the figure is still the main element that figuratively and literally bends out of its normal state depending on circumstances and settings. Constructed from rough patches of egg tempera on wood, these characters and their features regularly illustrate everyday moments, pleasures, and affairs, seen from often humorous perspective. With an obvious focus on human anatomy, it feels as if Dutch-born artist's characters' excessive muscularity becomes their uncomfortable drawback.


Out of the three artists in the show, Noro's works are covering the widest range of aesthetics, subjects, technical and conceptual approaches. Obviously very committed to creating, his work is built freely and within one piece can go from rough to remotely polished, from stained to thickly layered. Simply setting up a scene and not depicting a full narrative, the works are the result of his ongoing experimentation with materials and mediums. Often working on found objects and reused materials, he is allowing the interaction of the paint and surface to lead the way, merely suggesting what the painting could be. —Sasha Bogojev