Pensive/lack of memory

Jenssen, Olav Christopher, 1990 til 1991

Oil on canvas, 275x255cm, Sørlandets Kunstmuseum

Olav Christopher Jenssen (f.1954) was educated at the College of Applied Art and the National Academy of Fine Art in Oslo.  He made a name for himself on the Norwegian and Scandinavian art scene as early as the 1980s and during that same period he moved to Berlin, where he still lives and works. From 1996 to 2003 he was Professor of Painting at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, a professorship he took over after the German artist Sigmar Polke. 

It was with his comprehensive show Lack of Memory (1990-92) at Kunstnernes Hus in 1992 that Olav Christopher Jenssen made his definitive breakthrough. And with his participation in the prestigious exhibition Documenta in Kassel, Germany the same year, this cycle of paintings also contributed to his gaining international attention.  Lack of Memory is a series of about 40 large paintings of the same format, among them the painting Pensive. From having concentrated on the relationship between figure and space during the early 80s, and then shifting to a more abstract mode of expression with allusions to a Romantic-abstract landscape painting towards the end of the decade, what characterises Lack of Memory in particular is a focus on the painterly means. The paintings are in some ways quite different, but all of them have a layer-upon-layer structure and application of paint, which gives them a transparent, pulsating appearance. Lack of Memory has in many ways remained standing as Olav Christopher Jenssen’s major work.