Hans Alf

Jørgen Haugen Sørensen - The Innocent Guilty
Morten B. Masri - Leaving Paintings
30 November, 2018 - 12 January, 2019

About the exhibitions

The Innocent Guilty

“I see myself as someone, who’s on the outside looking in, devoid of any beliefs in anything. Our time is a time of ceaseless movement; a time of endless abuse and crime that we’re forced to witness. “The Innocent Guilty” is a metaphor for the strange situation in which we find oursel- ves: Financial abundance that leads to climate change on one side, and endless wars that force people to abandon their lives an go on the run on the other. We are all involuntary partici- pants in this game, and it riddles us with a chronic sense of guilt. The impetus of our progress, that certain force which has been our propulsion, has also left us behind, shuffling around aimlessly in groups of “innocent guilty”.”

In a time, where the visual arts are often accused of being both toothless, politically correct and timid, Jørgen Haugen Sørensen is an unwavering beacon of pessimism.
Few other Danish artists have insisted as fervently on opposing the power elite, notions of good taste and the bourgeoisie – even if at times it would have undoubtedly been wiser to hold his peace.

For Haugen Sørensen it is a core duty, an intrinsic condition of being an artist, that you call out injustice and defend the defenceless. What he experiences around him, the sickly tendencies he believes to see, simply must be disseminated and communicated in the materials and with the language, which he masters. And for this reason alone, through seven decades now, the legen- dary sculptor has chipped, hammered, knead, shaped, pulled, stretched and drawn his way out of his own existential reflections and into both Danish art history and our collective conscience.

This new exhibition, which is the sculptor’s fourth with Hans Alf Gallery – probably some kind of record for the short-tempered working-class kid – is no exception to the rule that Haugen Sø- rensen never shies away from a fight. The works – a combination of imposing, black sculptures and gauzy white ceramic reliefs – with titles such as “The Unneeded”, “Random Justice” and “Why”, tell the tale of a world that is falling apart; a return to the uncivilized, naked, original man, who in all his uncomfortable immediacy mirrors his inner wildness in his exterior.

As Haugen Sørensen himself puts it, he has once again “discovered a new way of modelling”. And this technique, in which the traces of his fingers are visible everywhere, and the genesis itself is so apparent, is somehow Haugen Sørensen’s own way of mobilizing his inner savage; the animal within. The works, which already seek to voice a certain brutality, also bear the rem- nants of the artistic process in a peculiar, temporal manner that we rarely see in a sculpture, as it almost always takes the form of a movement frozen in time. Because of this additional dimensi- on, Haugen Sørensen’s new works become dialectic: The artist shapes the material in reference to the world around him, but at the same time the artwork points back to the artist, his physique, his movements and his existence. Object and creator somehow become inseparable. And for an artist, this is probably the finest thing, you can achieve.

“The Innocent Guilty” marks Jørgen Haugen Sørensen’s triumphant return to Denmark, follow- ing the enormous retrospective in his hometown of Pietrasanta in 2017, in which both the muse- um, the local church, the square and several smaller piazzas were used, celebrating the sculp- tor’s almost 50 years in the Tuscan costal town. In conjunction with the celebrations, The New Carlsberg Foundation generously donated the sculpture “La Folla / The Crowd” to Pietrasanta, where it has now found a permanent spot on the Piazza Crispi a few hundred metres from the city centre.

Leaving Paintings

While Jørgen Haugen Sørensen’s “The Innocent Guilty” opens in the main gallery, Morten B. Masri’s show “Leaving Paintings” is on view in the project room. The Exhibition is Masri’s first with Hans Alf Gallery.

Morten B. Masri (b. 1977) is a Danish painter and sculptor, who lives and works in Copenhagen. He graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2014.

According to Masri, his works are concerned with “potential experiences”: That which is not, but might come to be. His paintings, often monumental I both scale and subject, seek a liminal position between Man and the world; between belief and knowledge; between cognition and fact.

Masri’s universe utilizes seemingly incompatible historical elements to a great extent and without shame: Ancient Greek statues are placed carelessly in the wide-bellied wooden boats of the Danish Skagen painters, as if they were all variations on “Nike of Samothrace”, familiar scenes from the most iconic paintings of the Romantic era are emulated in the foreground, and behind his towering sculptures, the skillful painter pays tribute to the main protagonists of the Color Field movement. The works bear titles such as “The Terminal Beach” – a J.G. Ballard reference – and “Heavenly Widened Roses” – a line from Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane” – and quotes in the paintings themselves paraphrase everything from Brian Eno to Ekelöf.

Morten B. Masri revels in the fragmented and poetic; that, which was once dubbed postmodernism, but which ought more fittingly be labeled bricolage. The point of this atomization, de-hierarchization and juxtaposition of seemingly contradictory elements, is to force the viewer to see anew and thereby hopefully perceive the world differently. The individual components aren’t necessarily important to the painter; rather, they act as exemplary forms that help structure the composition of the painting. It is about provoking curiosity and facilitating contemplation through equal parts recognition and confusion. And of course, as we all know, the devil is in the detail.

Morten B. Masri’s work has been exhibited in the Dalian Art Museum in China; at Viborg Kunsthal, Denmark; with Copenhagen’s Kunsthal Charlottenborg and at Volta, Basel. In 2014 he had his first major solo with the now defunct LARM gallery.

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