Critics’ Picks

Sergej Jensen, Untitled, 2014, acrylic on linen, 110 x 90 1/2".

Sergej Jensen, Untitled, 2014, acrylic on linen, 110 x 90 1/2".

Los Angeles

Sergej Jensen

Regen Projects
6750 Santa Monica Blvd
October 28–February 7, 2015

Sergej Jensen combines beautiful treatments of tone and of texture in nine paintings, introducing figurative scenes that evoke classical canvases and etchings, and marking a successful departure from his minimal, organic geometries. Loose, honest, at times scatological in both subject and execution, figures stand in comedic regard to one another: A ghostly depicted reclining nude is rendered cartoonish by his sulking, impasto companion (Untitled, 2014); a Jesus-like character at the foot of a dying woman appears uninterested in the tragedy and the surrounding melodramatic throng (Untitled [old vs. young], 2014). In Untitled (Rave at Gallows hill), 2014, a figure squats to relieve herself in front of a statuesque Venus, creating a moment as poetic as it is cheeky.

By leaving the scaffolding of his thought process visible in the finished product—the brushwork is mediated and often deliberately unfinished—Jensen presents a clear willingness to let the work remain in a state of frank discovery: The heroic form slouches into something more human, lending the work a far more relatable touch than the images it references. This transient energy, coupled with a pastiche of Greco-Roman and pastoral imagery and impressively executed in a muted palette, creates an unexpectedly vibrant and intimate experience. At a moment when so many histories are mined via digital networks, “Classic” is refreshing in that it retains the immediacy and metamentality that we associate with contemporary life while simultaneously producing an analog affect. If to be classic is in a sense to be timeless, these are works that make a furtive appeal: How can anything belong to a time other than now?