Ken Hegemann’s catalogue for Tom Król is functional in its design and expressive in its content
Long since their days applying for art and design school in Cologne together, now-Berlin-based Creative and Art Director Ken Hegemann has teamed up with friend and fine artist Tom Król – creating the catalogue and identity for his duo of LIMBO exhibitions. Both operating under the same name, the Cologne-based artist ran two institutional exhibitions at Germany’s NAK and Kunstverein Augsburg in 2020, requiring a stark and supportive graphic language to accompany them.
Turning to Hegemann, the resulting visuals are incredibly purpose-driven; with a rigidity and clarity distilled in order to give precedent to Król’s work due to the extreme contrast in style and vibrancy. “It was our intention to create a very clear and well-structured image of Tom’s body of work,” Hegemann tells us, “to create calm and a tight focus between viewer and painting,” contrary to the fragmentation and beautiful clutter found in his work. “To me,” he adds, “this almost feels like the clear white space surrounding the heads in relation to the overall composition of his paintings.”
Effectively making use of Helvetica Neue to achieve as such, Hegemann relied on the typeface’s functional underpinnings to communicate the meaning behind Król’s work without taking attention away from what is being discussed. “Helvetica sometimes feels like the visual equivalent of air or water, which is great,” Hegemann adds, “it felt natural and we did not need anything else for this project,” not over-complicating the catalogue or identity with any superfluous decoration.
Even for the front cover, Hegemann gave focus to Król, replicating ‘Mond,’ a painting of his, to the scale of the original painting – providing a beautiful tableau to the artist’s mark-making and expression due to the large scale of the painting in contrast to the catalogue’s more reserved scale. Opting for ‘Mond’ specifically due to its richness in colour and texture, Hegemann explains his fondness for this creative solution to the dust jacket, recalling “I really liked the idea of losing yourself in one specific, favourite detail or structure besides the overall clear shape and form of the painting.”
The size of the catalogue in question was a decision made similarly to that of the type choice; one of functionality. “We were looking for a handy format for the catalogue,” Hegemann explains, “but still big enough to show some larger images of Tom’s work within a clear white frame.” Rolling with a reduced A4 size, Hegemann gives the reader somewhat of a sense of familiarity whilst at the same time providing a scale we’re not used to holding. Subsequently giving the pages a greater sense of scale, the result is friendly – akin to a notebook – almost becoming a charmingly discordant manual that is both functional in its design and expressive in its content.
Helvetica Neue by Max Miedinger and Edouard Hoffmann