November 12, 2005
For his first one-person exhibition in New York, German artist Sergej Jensen created a body of paintings, consisting of sewn-together fields of dyed fabric marked with paint, bleach or strips of fabric, of which a group of eighteen will be shown at Anton Kern Gallery from October 18 through November 12, 2005.
It comes as no surprise that Jensen, who once described his work as “painting without paint,” deliberately named this exhibition Paintings, thereby placing his art-making practice into the center of attention - a practice which, besides painting, also includes film-making, performance and music. In fact, Jensen’s inclusion in the recent exhibition “Moderne Kunst. Formalismus heute. Modern Art. Formalism Today.” at the Kunstverein Hamburg (2005) significantly contributed to the current debate around issues of contemporary art practices in relation to those of earlier avant-garde movements.
For this exhibition, Jensen has created a group of works, in which he stitches together and stretches dyed sheets of fabric, such as burlap, raw silk and linen, even knitted wool. However, these fabrics are not simply supports for further painting but rather act as ready-mades that are then stained with natural dyes, gouache and acrylic, bleached with chlorine and often applied with roughly cut strips of fabric and iron-on patches, mimicking brushstrokes and the gesture of painting. Crush marks of washed textiles become drawing, edges bleed, definitions begin to fade. The coarseness of the materials, the informal, stitched together look of the color fields, and the properties of the muted harmonious tones create a radical bareness and tattered grace that, in combination with such titles as “Nosferatu,” “Opera Scene from Star Wars” or “United Nations,” become highly evocative and speak directly to issues of aesthetic withdrawal and the state of material.