The Expedition, 2017.

(Exhibition text – EN)

Olav Christopher Jenssen, The Expedition
02 June – 19 August 2017


The focus of this exhibition by Olav Christopher Jenssen is a new series of paintings from 2017 and a parallel series of works made during the artist’s residency at Longyearbyen in Svalbard, Norway, in March and April 2016. The latter works, which are painted with acrylic, pastel, and graphite on Alu-Dibond plates primed with gesso, are all directly inspired by Jenssen’s experiences and impressions in the Arctic. They are characterizable as gestural or informal images but they also include sequences and patterns of a more geometrical kind. There is a continuous shifting in the paintings between references to nature’s organic and crystalline morphology and more open and non-referential abstractions.


The works are presented next to the expedition crates in which they were shipped to and from Svalbard. This combination of works and crates in the actual exhibition space emphasizes the idea of the painter as a kind of explorer venturing into exotic areas and then bringing back an archive of “observations” and “samples.” Here the archive is the painterly series consisting of open, tactile, and fleeting images of the raw processes of nature. They embody a visual documentation of travels into the unknown.


In addition to the expedition project Jenssen is showing a series of paintings, L11 from 1998, and a series of ceramic sculptures, The Libertines from 2014. The L11 paintings may appear as almost monochrome surfaces of white paint but on a closer look, the white colour is covering several other layers of paint in many colours, which is evident where delicate lines and diagrams have been carefully scraped through the layers. From image to image the same figure or template is repeated and transformed, making our perception shift between resemblance and difference.


The ceramic sculptures The Libertines have an excessive and sometimes grotesque quality due to their glossy blue glazings and raw modeling. Formally they are reminiscent of nature’s accumulations of matter, which is reproduced in forms that seem at once both finished and changeable. From the title, it is also possible to conceive of them as dissolute abstractions of persons or beings. Fundamentally they have an almost primitive anthropomorphic energy, balancing on the edge between form and formlessness. In general, there isn\\\’t any absolute difference between nature and body or between outer and inner space in the works. They allow for another insight, where these concepts are in movement and constantly intertwined, held together for a moment in the open structure of the work.