History And Context
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1945, Bill Jensen received an MFA from the University of Minnesota and then, in the early 1970s, moved to New York where he began showing in well-received exhibitions. At the time, his compositions were considered hypnotic transmutations of form, crafted on heavily worked surfaces that challenged the physical boundaries of the canvas. These atmospheric, mystical paintings evoked colorful, primordial landscapes inspired by American artists like Arthur Dove and
Albert Pinkham Ryder. Jensen's work further developed and became inspired by the styles and surfaces of painters Jasper Johns, Robert Ryman, and Jackson Pollock. Jensen's recent work (of the past two decades) tends to be smaller in size although large and expansive in internal scale.
Jensen is a master of his medium, a "painterly painter", who mixes his paints himself, thickening or thinning them as needed for transparency. He also uses a wide variety of tools, some handmade, with which to spread, brush, smooth out and wipe away his paint. As a result, these paintings exhibit varied texture and often heavily worked surfaces. His colors are saturated and though they are scraped away and built again, they have clarity, vibrancy, and intensity while his forms appear more elusive. Luohan VII, 2005, is one of several paintings named after the spiritual group, the Luohan, disciples of Buddha, who have reached spiritual enlightenment and transcended worldly reality as well as concepts of time and space.