BILL JENSEN at Cheim & Read

Bill Jensen, Images of a Floating World (Passare), 2009, 26 x 20 inches, oil on linen

Bill Jensen, Luohan (Niafunke), 2008-2009, 28 x 23 inches, oil on linen

Bill Jensen, Luohan (Red Pine), 2008, 28 1/4 x 23 1/4 inches, oil on linen

Bill Jensen, The Tempest (Ryder), 2007-2008, 48 x 34 inches, oil on linen

It is always exhilarating to see a group of Bill Jensen paintings, and the new show at Cheim & Read (through March 27) does not disappoint. Comprised of a group of new oils on linen as well as a large selection of works on paper in tempera and in ink, the show is not only a feast of color and surface, but a welcome blast of intense engagement with the painting process -- and the world. Over the years, Jensen has slowly and deliberately worked his way deeper and deeper into a seamless synthesis of experience and practice -- an ontological state of total inclusiveness. Having left direct references to visionary landscape behind, he has freed himself to fully exploit the physical and metaphysical possibilities of color, rhythm and substance. It might be easy to equate this work to action painting, but it is actually operating in a very different realm -- and the key to that difference lies in the small scale of these paintings. This work is not about grand gestures and heroic presence. Each painting is a humble realization -- a highly compressed aesthetic event in which the process of painting and the process of living are one thing.