birgit jensen

is another of the artists from düsseldorf  whose work i’m really excited about showing this autumn.

“sagarmatha” 2010  oil on linen 79×55 inches


a few years ago, at madrid’s enormous art fair, ARCO, i noticed a change in the behavior of people looking at art.   they walked around with their mobile phones held in front of their faces, taking photographs.    they weren’t looking, then photographing things they wanted to remember.    their first view was actually through a lens.

i’ve seen this more and more.  i’ve been wondering if people are becoming more comfortable viewing an image than they are experiencing unmediated reality.

birgit jensen’s paintings prompt related questions.

at the most basic level, jensen is a landscape painter.   the subjects of her recent works are usually iconic places.   places she’s never been – mount everest, the great wall, giza.   she’ll appropriate an image of the site, manipulate the pixels making up the image into geometric marks or patterns, then make a low-resolution, pixillated painting in oil on linen.  the painting above is everest.

the paintings vibrate and shimmer.    from a distance (or viewed as a small photographic image), they’re easily discernible.    up close, they break down into textile-like patterns and are quite abstract – a comment on the relationship between perspective and understanding, perhaps.

i love this painting — “dipankara” 2010 oil on linen 79×55 inches.    “dipankara” is the name of a buddha.    the place is a cliff-face in afghanistan — bamyan — where in 2001 the taliban destroyed two monumental sculptures from the 6th century.   this is a painting of the niche where one of the representations of the buddha used to stand.

a detail:

like the artist, most of us know these places through images — not first hand.   here, we’re not just looking at a photo of the site, we’re looking at a painting of a photo, manipulated by someone who’s never been to this place.  worse yet, you’re not looking at the painting, but a representation of the painting on a blog.

it’s a bit like the children’s game “telephone” — you have to wonder how much gets lost or added with each re-telling.

or, maybe you have been to these places.   in that case, does the fuzzy rendering in the painting coincide with your memory?   how accurate is your memory of the place at this point?

i also love this painting:

recognize the mountain?    probably.    can’t quite remember what mountain it is?     that’s because it doesn’t really exist.   it’s the paramount logo, sans halo of stars…

a detail:

perception, mediation, interpretation, memory…  you’ll be able to see birgit jensen’s paintings in the flesh in shows at my galleries in new york and san francisco in november 2010.