He painted the walls a pale grey pink.
He put down swaths of carpet, in rusty cedar, or maybe burnt sienna. Unevenly.
Or did he find the space 'as is' and just take up the hammer to hang his paintings, here, here, and here, no, 62 centimeters to the right, there? Did he walk into the Kunst-Werke and find the white cube already painted and carpeted in this wicked way?
Don't believe it for a second. Sergej Jensen (pause), the painter (pause), is known for the spaces he creates around the paintings he creates, which look more like found paintings (or oversized placemats), taken under his wing to repair. At first glance, the third floor of the KW bears a slight resemblance to a big bad painting show in... Darmstadt. His paintings are fragile, feeble flops, and painfully shy. They've had their hair cut in Mitte. They lisp. But when you come closer to listen to them, you become more obsessed by the lipstick they are wearing than the missing s's and z's coming out in-between. Or rather: they don't lisp but they listen. Crumpled and wrinkly, they hear you, and in the silence of their hearing, you hear depth.
Forgive this perverse reverse paean, but I have had to defend his work several times of late, to colleagues who just got off the boat, so to speak, who arrived in Berlin yesterday. You must remember that it was the tail-end of the Leipzig School era, with all of the disappointment that brought to our general belief in what painting could be. Sergej Jensen, the painter, yes, stood out from that flashy crowd whose pockets were stuffed with the riches of dummies. Jensen soared above them while remaining right here on the ground. He wriggled a complicated psyche into the tamed forms of Abstract Expressionism without having to look backwards or even make the notions of a bow. He made us feel the feeling of a Louise Lawler photograph, a photograph of a collector's home, you know the one I mean, the soup tureen in front of a Pollock.
His painting shows were never just painting shows, displaying work accomplished in the atelier.
In 2004, he built a fireplace into a white cube.
(Later, he added a divan covered in furs and invited friends over for music and films. It was gemütlich.)
In 2006, he lined the room with cheap plastic chairs.
(It was not a room for painting, but a room where you awaited your root canal. Read: Darmstadt.)
His paintings are lopsided and snagged. They've trampled through the garden, a pale grey pink claustrophobic kindergarten, that is, where wellness meets with thorns.
03.05. - 19.07.2009