Los Angeles

Alfred Jensen

Rolf Nelson Gallery

Purporting to make concrete personal intellectualizations on underlying scientific principles (Image and Afterimage—“light-electro-magnetic color working schema”) and philosophical theorems (Duality Triumphant) by means of geometrical divisions, Jensen may be allied with other architectonic painters such as Hooper, Davis, and Leger. His paintings are also obstinate and make no concessions, but create a tough, dumb sense of beauty. His curious diagrams propose to distill a salient glimpse into all-encompassing unity, but through contradiction, end in an overall patterned redundancy not unlike early American bedspreads. Strenuous visual activity yielding inner comprehension is an intriguing idea, almost as naive as Van Gogh’s statement that his violently distorted and primary hued Bedroom in Arles was intended to produce in the viewer state of rest.

The paintings possess a flat-footed orientation of symmetry with configurations flopped left and right, mirrored above and below and even diagonally. Like endless links or numerical series, infinite repetition is possible. The shapes are basic and overly familiar, and therefore timeless (square, circle, diamond, arc, etc.) as are his signs (arrows, plus, minus, numbers, letters). Selections are made directly from some off-beat color wheel; impure mixtures often occur stirred on the picture. The thick paint is applied—the most difficult barrier to initial acceptance; nontraditional to a geometric mode—with a palette knife, heaped on as though the paint were a mortar. It would be difficult to cite an artist with more elaborate or less pretentious means, or paintings which are as simply direct as they are cleverly complex. In Jensen’s works ingenuousness and ingeniousness merge.

Fidel A. Danieli