Nick Jensen: Boy with a Tambourine

17/06/2021 - 04/09/2021


Union Gallery is pleased to present Nick Jensen’s Boy with a Tambourine exhibition, his first solo exhibition
with the gallery, curated by William Gustafsson

Jensen paints figures on the verges of dissolution. Inhabiting a sometimes dense, smoky haze, his figures engage us with their suggestiveness. Absent voids in the shape of silhouetted profiles become sites into which we pour our own subjective memories, or visually listen to the unfamiliar. Rivulets, drips, stains, peeling flakes, globular deposits glazed with dirty amber, gestural scrubs and spattered edges are part of his
painterly lexicon, whilst memory plays a generating role in the formation of his images. Navigating the hinterland where figuration fades into abstraction, his paintings eschew the photographic, the purely abstract
and the illustrated.

In the exhibition’s eponymous work, Boy with a Tambourine (2020), we find a boy holding a circular object
which we presume to be the tambourine. The name of this instrument – diminutive of the old French, tambour – is thought to derive from the Persian for drum, tabira. Like the word, this percussive device crosses time (through millennia) and space (from east to west), its tightened animal skin like the tightened skin of the canvas into which we project and lose ourselves.

There is little detail to be found, but occasionally an object is employed which can function like an anchor. In
Smoker (2021), the smoke from a cigarette melds into the scene’s otherworldliness. In Untitled (2021), another young male figure, this time surrounded by his peers, looks straight at us. What might be a simple passing glance feels like the recognition of a chance encounter. We could be privy to something more profound, an identification of the sort only a painting can suggest. The scene is soaked in light, the canvas is soaked in paint and it’s the viewer’s guess as to why, where or when this scene is taking place.

Examining the pictorial depth of Jensen’s images from afar, it becomes apparent that they are painted upon a
network of geometrical lines created by collaged pieces of canvas in various formations. The images absorbed
into and laying on top of their surfaces are ripped through by this constructivist dimension like a call to order. We feel the acceptance of an underlying violence, which takes in the reality of our world. The fragile, evanescent forms’ coexistence with the unequivocal definition of these lines and patterns might summon the blurry workings and sudden lucidities of memory, or a dimension of consciousness itself.