Gea Karhof  – 50 years of etching

Gea Karhof has managed to build a distinctive body of work over more than 50 years. Her work cannot be linked to a group or movement, which makes it all the more remarkable. She attempts to encompass a ‘world of ideas’ in hand-colored etchings that reflect her broad interests. ‘NATURE’, ÇULTURE’, ‘TOWERS’, ‘UNIVERSITY’, and ‘BIODIVERSITY’.  
These are the parts that make up the exhibition. Inspirations that draw a line through time of her extensive body of work, the earliest etchings primarily focus on NATURE as their subject. They feature unique models. When Gea draws one of them opposite Tutankhamun and names this series ‘Lines of History,’ she begins traveling to Egypt and other distant cultural areas. In the etchings that follow, connections between different times and ‘cultures’ emerge. This leads to a series of large etchings featuring ‘TOWERS’, important landmarks. Asian temples are juxtaposed with the most modern architecture. The contemporary tower race – ever higher – recalls the ambition of earlier cathedral builders. Above the towers, we glimpse something of the magical ‘UNIVERSE’ and what is depicted therein in mythological and scientific terms.

Enthusiastic about this subject, Gea Karhof takes courses at the Oostzaan Observatory and with Govert Schilling. She incorporates this knowledge into complex etchings such as ‘Beyond Gravity’ and ‘A Passion to Fly.’ A recent series of works, titled ‘Homesick for the Future’ and ‘Pushing Boundaries,’ was inspired by the CERN project in Switzerland; there, they searched for the ‘God particle’ to come closer to the origin of life. Gea creates her personal universe in these etchings, leaving the open door to imagination. The magical world of childhood also plays a role in the form of the cartoon characters from her youth.

During the lockdown, she cannot travel. Gea returns to nature and the struggle within it at the molecular level. An icon of the virus that connected us all then spurred her on. Works themed around ‘BIODIVERSITY’. An unseen world of microorganisms unfolds through the microscope, demonstrating how everything is interconnected. The etching ‘Wonderful World’, specially made for this exhibition, attempts to encompass everything and depict the primal force of life, with biodiversity as its starting point. Gea Karhof’s work is recognizable and attracts a substantial audience. To get an impression of the creation process of Gea Karhof’s etchings, the film ‘From Sketch to Etching’ will be shown during the exhibition (in the Mayor’s room).