“Always full of colour”: Alfie Kungu returns with his signature childish aesthetic
The London-based artist has collaborated with fashion designer Liam Hodges for his SS20 collection, and has started to experiment with a new series on silk.
- Ayla Angelos
- 24 August 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
It’s been quite some time since we last heard from Alfie, whose comically long-trousered figures and figurative paintings were an instant hit with us at It’s Nice That. Over the course of a few years, not only has he moved from Bristol to London but he’s also had works exhibited widely at Castlefield Gallery, House of Vans London and Gallery Berlin, alongside a handful of collaborations with the likes of designer Liam Hodges.
Transitioning from legs towards fashion print designs and more abstract, wacky pieces, there’s one thing that’s remained throughout Alfie’s work: that is, a cheerful burst of colour and playful characters. Creating work that’s “always full of colour,” Alfie describes his aesthetic as being bold and a medley of sorts. “I’d define my work as a clashing mixture of influences and ideas that come together to express what is usually going through my mind,” he says. He draws inspiration from everywhere, whether that’s from cartoons, logos, symbols or from everyday life.
“Growing up in a household and seeing my dad making his paintings definitely made it seem like a normal thing to do,” he says. Like many kids, Alfie found himself drawing and painting as often as he could. His mum, too, was a huge inspiration as she continuously encouraged the young, aspiring artist. So it was an expected route that Alfie found himself navigating towards, even if he didn’t quite know it at the time. “I’ve always found making work a playful and therapeutic time; I probably wouldn’t say I’d be doing this if you asked me as a kid, but now I’m here it seems like the only thing I could be doing.”
It’s also no secret that the right dose of colour can create certain emotions. Perhaps this is why Alfie’s pieces are so heavily loaded with wonderfully bright hues. Referring to colour as the most important aspect of his creations, he adds: “It’s what motivates me to create a whole series of work sometimes. When I’m making my work is when I’m at my happiest, so the more I get into creating, the more positive energy I’m releasing.” He continues to explain the fact that bright colours are a “good tool” to emphasise positive emotions, evocative of a childhood filled with intentional chaos, play, paints and the freedom to explore through art. “This attitude comes from being encouraged to paint and make a mess as a kid, that childish element still comes through in my work today.”
With his wide archive of sources in tow, Alfie purposefully seeks out “clashing ideas” so that he can then repurpose them into something new. “For me, it’s more about changing the context of them and giving them new space to exist in.” Alongside his new series of silken paintings (presented below), an example of this can be seen in his recent collaboration with Liam Hodges. A friendship and collaboration that formed naturally, it seemed only normal to continue on a project together – that being the designer’s SS20 collection. “We have so many shared stylistic interests,” says Alfie. “I think both of us have quite niche references sometimes, and this definitely motivated us both as we bounce off each other so much. We wanted to create something out of this energy that encompassed both of our styles.”
Indeed lively and evocative of a deeper context, the collaboration with Liam Hodges saw a butterfly motif feature heavily throughout the collection – symbolic of the notion behind regeneration and a “new life”. The bone motif always makes a resurgence, stemming from the duo’s interest in the use of bones and technology in David Cronenberg’s 1999 film, Existent. “We drew comparisons with our modern selves and cavemen, specifically their use of bones as tools,” says Alfie, hence the reasoning behind the design of the Caveman Knit. Asked to pick out his favourite piece from the collection, although a “really hard” decision, Alfie points out one of the hand-painted denim pieces – “the Alfie Dii Shirt; I think because it references all of our inspirations – bones, butterfly, flowers and the text. It’s definitely what I wear the most!”
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.