Pictures and Paintings
May 10, 2008
March 22, 2008—A group of quietly beautiful formalist textilebased paintings by Danish artist Sergej Jensen will be on view through May 10th . This is the artist’s second solo show in New York at Anton Kern Gallery.
For this exhibition, Jensen — who once described his work as “painting without paint” — stitched together and stretched dyed sheets of fabric, such as burlap, raw silk and linen, even knit wool. These fabrics are not supports for further painting but rather act as ready-mades that are then marked with various liquids, natural dyes, gouache and acrylic, bleached with chlorine and often applied with roughly cut strips of fabric, all mimicking the gesture of painting.
Moving away from the material purity of his former work (and the neo-formalism debate about contemporary art practices in relation to those of earlier avant-garde movements), he now emphasizes the distressed character of the materials and its fragility in a kind of romanticism of material concreteness. He thereby moves closer to the historic works of Alberto Burri and away from Blinky Palermo’s clarity. The coarseness of the materials, the cracks and holes, the informal, stitched-together look of the color fields, and the properties of the muted harmonious tones create a radical frailty and tattered grace that become highly evocative and speak directly to issues of aesthetic withdrawal and the state of material. In addition, they infuse the paintings with a “street-wise attitude,” as a recent reviewer remarked