Yancey Richardson Gallery is pleased to present Feels Like Real, the first exhibition at the gallery by Brooklyn-based artist Matthew Jensen. Drawn from several seminal projects Jensen has developed over the past six years, the photographs in Feels Like Real weave together ideas about travel, observation, ephemerality, and the landscape. Throughout, the artist acts as a patient observer, moving through the world both physically and virtually, toggling between low and high tech modes of engagement.
In the series The 49 States, Jensen embarked on a virtual road trip of America using Google Street View in its early and low-resolution days. Because there exists a near infinite number of views to be captured and stitched together to create each state’s representative landscape, what results is a synthesized view of small town America. Noting that “the sun used to be the only thing to touch the entire earth and now Google does as well,” Jensen chose only images in which the sun is shining directly into the cameras. He initiated the project at a time when the technological world was evolving exponentially but Hawaii had not yet been mapped. He has purposefully left this one state missing as an acknowledgement of the moment in time before all 50 U.S. states were represented on Google Street View.
In The Sun Returning, Jensen uses his own camera to document the landscape while traveling by jet, miles above its surface. Flying cross-country, he observed how changing atmospheric conditions (and different degrees of window cleanliness) created varying levels of abstraction of the land below. Careful pre-flight seat selections allowed Jensen to position himself to use the sun as an essential tool in creating this body of work. Reflecting off rivers, irrigation canals, and lakes, the sun gracefully traces the serpentine outlines and sweeping arcs of bodies of water while reducing the land to near obscurity. 14 Hour Sunset Over the Alaskan Range continues this airborne documentation. Flying west over Alaska at a speed comparable to which the sun was setting, Jensen performed a slow, extended study of light resulting in the capture of one image of serene beauty.
Rainbow Around the Sun, derives from the artist’s weekly travels between New York and Washington D.C. via bus. Jensen treated the 220 hours within this confine as “active studio time.” One trip provided the artist with an optical phenomenon known as a “sun halo.” Shooting upwards through the heavily tinted window at a sky laced with intersecting telephone lines, Jensen produced a series of photographs in which the sun, and its icy ring, are both the co-creator and ever-present subject of his work.
Much of Jensen’s practice has been comprised of extended walks characterized by careful observation. While he walks, he observes, records, and collects, both objects and images. In 31 Winter Walks, made while a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and recently on view at the Brooklyn Museum, each photograph is the product of a single walk and features a bundle of sticks and ephemera collected along the way, representing a narrative of the artist’s experience. July, Kuerner Farm, commissioned by the Brandywine River Museum of Art, combines nature and found objects that hint at the dynamic history of the site where they were collected. The four-panel piece Walking Sticks captures the subtle shifts in a landscape as one moves slowly by foot. The wooden posts marked the near end of a 100-mile walk from Wilmington to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
Matthew Jensen received an MFA from the University of Connecticut and a BA from Rice University. His work has been included in exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, MASS MoCA, the Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh, N.C., the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art and the Brandywine River Museum of Art. Photographs by Jensen have been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.