Ronchini Gallery presents the first UK solo exhibition of works by Berlin-based artist Jens Wolf. The artist’s geometric paintings on plywood panels explore colour, shape and flatness. The exhibition contains new works including a site-specific wall painting. Wolf is a key figure in the development of process art and from the same generation of artists such as Mark Grotjahn. The artist’s abstract pieces set off their precise geometry with deliberate imperfections that add a human element to its formality.
The artist describes his practice when speaking to itsnicethat.com, “I think more than anything else it’s about the freedom of what you can do within the confines of geometry. I like to play with angles and shapes, juxtaposing strong colours, forms and lines, but trying to marry them into different harmonic arrangements. It is, I suppose, an eternal evolution, an ongoing process of exploration and adventure.”
“I always think it’s important to begin by putting pen to paper, so I normally begin with small-scale pencil drawings, which tend to be vague and unclear to begin with, but which eventually turn into the basis for a finished work. Once I have decided on what I want to do, I transfer the images onto plywood “pattern boards” and play with colour combinations in order to ascertain how the images would look on a much larger scale. I am not averse to looking at other artists and their work for inspiration, mimicking the patterns and graphics that I like.”
Taking inspiration from abstract movements of the 20th century, Wolf directly references familiar motifs associated with artists such as Josef Albers and Frank Stella. In contrast to the hard-edged abstract works they reference, the artist’s paintings deliberately contain imperfections. The natural grain of the plywood Wolf paints on gives his geometric forms a softer appearance; edges on lines are frayed and the sign of the artist’s hand in the making of the work is visible in unpainted areas with pencil lines.
On the intentional imperfections in his work the artist states, “At the moment I am working primarily within the realm of geometrical abstract painting, with a nod to the principles of Constructivism. I use the tenets of abstraction, unpicking and fragmenting geometric forms according to an idea that I have in my mind. Imperfections are integral to my work. The conscious rough, unfinished elements on the plywood paintings and the natural grain of the plywood create a strong contrast to the softer appearance of the overall painting. There is a very specific feeling created by those obvious elements of distress in the painting, suggesting that there is more than one layer to explore, both metaphorically as well as literally.”
Obvious signs of distress occur in areas where the paint has been partially chipped away to reveal the raw surface underneath. Lorenzo Ronchini explains: “Jens Wolf has taken cold abstraction and added his own visual language to create contemporary works that have a sense of vulnerability and individual expression about them. Jens Wolf has been exhibiting across northern Europe for nearly fifteen years and I am delighted to now be presenting his works in London for the first time.’’
The artist’s work is included in numerous permanent collections including: Daimler Contemporary, Berlin; MARTa Herford Museum, Herford; Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn; Kunsthalle – CCA Andratx, Spain; Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken, Germany; The Zabludowicz Art Trust, London; and multiple FRAC Collections in France.
Jens Wolf, Ronchini Gallery, Until 25 April 2015