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Jacobsen's Counter and Culture

Posted: 12/13/11 12:11 PM ET

Mediating between art and life, Paul Jacobsen considers '60s and '70s counter cultures while engaging with his own multi-media practice. Raised in the mountains of Colorado by hippie parents and exposed to feminist groups, back-to-the-land comestible culture, "new age" spiritual awareness, and antiquated birth techniques, Jacobsen's work has consistently drawn from the "land" and retains an exceptional sense of self.

Jacobsen's latest body of work, influenced by sources from the spiritual guru Ram Dass and Grudjieff to William Morris (the textile designer and socialist who revived traditional methods of production), addresses contemporary culture's valuation of technology and investigates one of the oldest of visual technologies, the camera obscura. Incorporating this physical tool and once novel concept witht he rugged physicality of a backwoods cabin (a Ralph Laurenesque window display) Jacobsen arrives at an installation that taps desires for retreat and escape from civilization, technology, and industrial complex. The cabin/obscura lures viewers in and confronts them with an American flag projected upside down on a flow-chart-like drawing comprised of portraits of figures associated with mind control. At the heart of the exhibition is a "self portrait" sensitively rendered by Jacobsen from a 1976 slide of his nude, pregnant mother.

Paul Jacobsen, Petrify, 2011
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Paul Jacobsen, Petrify, 2011, Oil on linen, wood, 75 x 100 inches / 190,5 x 254 cm.
Courtesy: of Paul Jacobsen and Klemens Gasser and Tanja Grunert, Inc.
Photo: Credit Élan Jurado
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Other works, which, however interesting, don't retain the same efficacy as the camera obscura, include painted, but unfinished, vignettes of mountain landscapes, which combine materiality and shanty vernacular with photographic realism. A target hung from the gallery ceiling suggesting Pop Art and the participatory practices of the sixties, altogether forming a primer for a post-grid crash.

View Paul Jacobsen "Mouthpiece" at Gasser & Grunert, Inc. (524 West 19th Street)