“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 ourselves: 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 participants 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 legendary 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 Sørensen 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 remnants 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 dimension, 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, following the enormous retrospective in his hometown of Pietrasanta in 2017, in which both the museum, the local church, the square and several smaller piazzas were used, celebrating the sculptor’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.