Olav Christopher Jenssen
16 September – 28 Oktober 2017
Opening 15 September 2017
6 – 9 PM
The Artist is present
Beyond the Mountains
Paintings by Olav Christopher Jenssen
Text by Katja Blomberg
For years Olav Christopher Jenssen’s practice of abstract painting has grown steadily in various directions of geometric or vegetative order. His spectrum encompasses clear colours and planar forms as well as transparent, rampant gossamer, condensing and unfurling an intensely spatial effect. Despite the stylistic surprises Jenssen’s work continues to hold, the viewer still senses the deep kinship connecting the individual groups of works. Born in 1954 in Northern Norway, he had completed both his studies in art and graphics in Oslo and a lengthy residency in New York by the early 1980s. Since that time he has kept studios in Berlin and Lya in Southern Sweden. It is at the studio in Lya that the latest of his “Transmontane Paintings” were created in 2016 and the summer of 2017.
Like all his series, these pictures grew into a group gradually. Usually Jenssen works on several large-scale canvases concurrently, while they lean close to one another along the studio wall. Over a period of weeks he works on them, leaving them alone, returning to them, contemplating them for a time, until, layer by layer, they reach a state which the artist stops without completing it. Coloured and white lines inscribe themselves on the primed canvas during that process. They edge in front or on top of each other. The results are seemingly indeterminate spaces that allow the viewer to glimpse what lies before and what lies behind each layer until the gaze meets the white ground. Before his very eyes countless irregular, amorphous networks ramify. Alongside light, transparent zones dark fields condense in the background, giving the impression that they are clouds of energy. Everything seems to be in flux, appears to remain fragmentary and open. An objective or a finishing post never come into sight.
In the new works Jenssen’s assured sense of a homogenous overall colour scheme moves between pink and purple hues, which are sometimes heightened to yellow and orange, and aquamarine and green tones, which go as far as a deep anthracite, suggesting the association of a species-diverse underwater vegetation.
The title “Transmontane” takes up a Latin term that has almost completely disappeared from everyday usage. If in ancient times the regions beyond the mountains marked the end of the world, we in our globalised era suppose that everything is known and controllable. “Transmontanus” points into an unknown direction. It seems to open a door into the Hinterland of those mountain ranges which, figuratively speaking, permanently get in our way. “Transmontanus” refers to a strange country where we are alone, on uncertain ground and left to our own devices. Jenssen works on his paintings from exactly this attitude of assuredly feeling one’s way in the dark.
Contrary to the civilised zone of culture, “transmontano” seemingly chaotic forces of an unfettered nature prevail. Across the paintings an impenetrable thicket is sprawling. Hanging gardens of paradise unfurl a meshwork of colour and light. Lichens outgrow the artist’s abstract style, floating as though untainted by space and time. A variety of line and colour moods charge the images with a fine electric energy. A subtle emotiveness lends them an overall tension that is equally spellbound and uninhibited. The paintings could be mindmaps mirroring the inadequacies of life with moments of doubt and joy. Behind these antagonistic forces stands the desire for a paradisal state, which, in reality, is always doomed to fail. At the same time it would appear that herein lies the motivation for every new painting. Olav Christopher Jenssen’s series keep branching out into new directions over long periods of time. At their bottom there is no concept and no message, only life itself.
Potsdamer Straße 98
Tue-Sat 12-6 pm