Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bill Jensen, Louhan (Dark Angel)

Bill Jensen, Louhan (Dark Angel), 2010-11
28 x 23 in.

Bill Jensen (b.1945) is a contemporary artist whose work hangs in many major museums, including the Met.  Born in Minneapolis, Jensen moved to New York in the 1970s and rose to prominence as part of a resurgence in painting after the prevalence of other art forms in the late sixties.  Jensen's work is mostly abstract, featuring intense color and complex forms.  With its dense compositions, Jensen's work is primal and instinctive; the viewer's visceral reaction is a very important part of their impact.  Jensen's work ranges widely in tone, showing different aspects of the psyche.  Louhan is an impressive piece, that immediately grabs hold of the viewer. With the deep black center and washed out colors, the gaping black might appear to swallow its surroundings.  But instead there is a luminosity to the work.  The dark angel of the title becomes quite present as energy appears to radiate from the black.  The thin colors, then, appear like tendrils of flame, set alight by this presence.  However, the specter of the dark angel is not necessarily wholly negative.  The background does glow gold and purple, and theres is a sense of wonder at work here.  This mixes with the ominous presence to create an intense experience, perhaps akin to the sublime.

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