Sergej Jensen’s work draws on a wide range of materials and formal references. Primarily known for his textile works, his lyrical compositions incorporate a variety of fabrics, from burlap and linen to silk and wool.
Working within the idiom of minimalist painting, Jensen takes its material support – the canvas – and sews, bleaches, stretches or stains the cloth to create works that waver between abstraction and representation. The principle of the readymade and recycling also suffuse his practice; off-cuts from previous works often re-appear as motifs for new paintings; hand-knitted lengths are sewn or pulled over stretchers; sections of fabric are left outside to let the weather alter its surface. His practice draws attention to seemingly incidental details such as flecks of wool or frayed edges, and his muted palette and gestural mark-making, whether applied in paint or stained with bleach, point as much to negative space as to delineated forms. Although the imagery can be hard to read, the titles given often allude to their point of origin in recognisable forms, such as ‘Tower of Nothing’ made from recycled moneybags, or ‘Eye of the maker’ featuring various banknotes of different currencies, which point to his unabashed relationship to the commercial market.
While the discourse of Jensen’s paintings is often associated with the work of Rosemarie Trockel, Sigmar Polke, Blinky Palermo and Michael Krebber, it is the production of his own music, films and collaborative performances which bears as large an influence over his practice. In previous gallery exhibitions, Jensen has also subverted the gallery context by the arrangement of his paintings alongside additional domestic elements such as a fireplace, rugs or carpeting. For the Berlin Biennial, Jensen created a ‘waiting room’ lined with chairs, paintings, appliquéd fabric ceiling and a monitor with a film by Jensen capturing from a window unsuspecting passers-by in a park.
Sergej Jensen was born in Maglegaard, Denmark in 1973 and lives and works in New York. He has exhibited widely including solo exhibitions at Le Consortium, Dijon (2022); Kunsthalle Bern, Germany (2021); Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany (2017); National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen (2016); Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2013); MoMA PS1, New York (2011); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2010); Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2009); and Pinakothek Der Moderne, Munich touring to Kunsthalle Bergen, Norway and Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2008). Selected group exhibitions include 6th Hammer Invitational, The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011); Whitney Biennial, New York (2006); 6th Berlin Biennale (2006); and 26th Bienal de São Paulo (2004).