Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery is pleased to announce its first solo exhibition of Australian-born, Sweden-based artist Glenn Sorensen. ‘From here’ could equally be titled, ‘from home’ or ‘from life’. The nine paintings in the exhibition depict objects and people most immediate to Sorensen. With tiny brush strokes he meticulously builds up portraits or scenes directly from life: a young boy, a snake, the raspberry bushes in summer, the same raspberry bushes in autumn. There is a careful, loving attention to detail in the botanical accuracy of plants and flowers or the muscular lines of a snake’s sinuous, curled body. Sorensen treats the beautiful and the grotesque with the same reverence, creating an unsettling atmosphere that disturbs accepted ideas of good and bad, ugly and beautiful.
Absence (in the form of black) brings a visual crispness to Sorensen’s pictures. The edges are often hard, sharpened up, almost cut out. The process of singling out and zooming in on the minute detail of a thing intensifies its significance and bestows an aura of mysticism. The high level of focus shifts the imagery from the mundane to monumental in a way that recalls traditional still-life painting. Against these deep, dark backgrounds, Sorensen’s intuitive sense of placement is paramount; a pair of delicate petunias sitting low on the canvas in Low Petunia (2012) evokes a sombre mood whereas the white lilies in Star Eyed (2012) stand proudly near the top of the canvas.
Sorensen’s brush is often quiet – not everything is revealed. Generous sections of black or white cloak or disrupt possible narratives. Instead, there is a sense of ambiguity to the paintings that allows for textured meanings. A snake on the cusp of action; a man gestures ambiguously; a young child’s mood is indeterminate. The paintings are in this way problematic, but there is also a wonderful sense of theatricality to the compositions. In Sorensen’s highly focused pictures the tiny moments in life are heightened – soulful dramas of the minute.
Sorensen has exhibited internationally for almost two decades, following study at the Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts (1990) and the City Art Institute, Sydney (1986-88). In 2010 Sorensen held a solo exhibition at Pump House Gallery, London, which received wide international attention. Significant group exhibitions include ‘Moment – Ynglingagatan 1’ at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2011); ‘BigMinis’ at CAPC Musée d’art Contemporain, Bordeaux (2010); ‘Den Frie’ Utstilling, at Den Frie, Copenhagen (2009); ‘Napoli Presente Posizioni: e Prospettive dell’ Arte Contemporanea’, curated by Lorand Hegyi, at the P.A.N. Centre for Contemporary Art Naples (2005); and ‘Painterly’, the 11th Vilnius Painting Triennial, at the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania. Sorensen’s work is held in important public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Moderna Museet, Stocklholm, the Nordic Watercolour Museum, Skärhamn, Sweeden and the Malmö Art Museum, Malmo, Sweden.