Bill Jensen: Floating World

October 31, 2013 - December 21, 2013

Yoshii Gallery is pleased to present “Floating World”, an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Bill Jensen. This will be Jensen’s first solo exhibition with Yoshii Gallery, organized in collaboration with Cheim & Read.

The title of the exhibition refers to Japanese term Ukiyo, literally meaning Floating World and a homophone with the term for Sorrowful World in Japanese, as well as Floating World that are found in Chinese ancient poetry. Ukiyo glances into an understanding of an evanescent world, fleeting beauty and a pursuing pleasure in entertainments, disconnected from a mundane, everyday life portraying a surrealist view of commonplace.

For more than forty years, Jensen’s career has been marked by influential periods of unconventional abstractions, culminating in evocative compositions and an impeccable understanding of color. At times, his work resembles humble, natural landscapes such as Ryōan-ji (a Japanese zen temple considered one of the finest examples of a Japanese rock garden), reproducing a natural beauty that one can find visceral attraction in.

A keen awareness of art history, spatial possibilities of composition, and Taoist philosophy, together with his affinity with Eastern thought, has led the artist to produce works of audacious and anomalous unity. Widely inspired by the history of art, from American modernism of Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley and Albert Pinkham Ryder to the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, Jensen brings to the conventions of the genre a bold and, at times, a faint femininity. As evidenced by many of the works’ titles, including Yūgen, a synonym for aesthetic profundity in Japanese, his sustained dialogue with a profound sense of Japanese culture results in elusive beauty; he seeks minimalism and abstraction to achieve personal and cultural satisfaction.

Process and medium are critical aspects of Jensen’s works. Having a way of allowing subtle and elemental forces – such as color, shape, and light – to rise from their depths to surfaces of deceptive force, many layers are built up to create a physically palpable inner presence as well as record the process of their developments. All of his works are executed in a persistent manner; he mixes a sense of visual bounty of creative yet experimental methodology with self-developed paints built on his early training in abstract painting infusing this Eastern tradition with Western sensibility. This daring leap imbues his works with a profound sense of inner-direction and latent manifestation of time, existence, and sublime content that each work corresponds between previous bodies of work.

His works are the slow product of wide-ranging meditations on the interrelation of forms, lines, and color in art, nature, and life. A quietude has settled into Jensen’s work, emphasized again and again by muted surfaces, subtle details and a modest flow of movements, creating a illusory simplicity that emphasizes its stillness and contemplative presence.

Bill Jensen, one of the most innovative artists of his generation, was born in 1945 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He received his MFA at the University of Minnesota in 1970 and soon after moved to New York, becoming one of first artists to establish a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. His work has been exhibited extensively since 1971 at prominent venues, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. His work has also been acquired by the aforementioned along with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others.