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JAKOB JØRGENSEN (Danish, b. 1977)

Totem, 2021


83.75" H x 15.75" W x 15.75" D

Jakob Jørgensen is a hands-on artist, deeply involved in the tangible material he is exploring as well as in the intellectual perspectives of a given project. Resistance is a key focal point for Jørgensen, who is thrilled when materials put up a fight and he has to grapple and tussle with them in order to bring out their core. Grasp the essence and pull out the form, despite any inherent defiance. Engaging in this process is a deeply personal experience, and one that captivates him.

For many years Jørgensen has made wood the basis for a range of poetic and epic furniture, many of them chairs and storage pieces with narrative titles. These works occupy a continuum between the commercial and the artistic; Jørgensen is fluent in both idioms and works in a continuous cross-fertilization between set and free tasks. He’s also an accomplished craftsman, who masters virtually every step in the artistic process, whether the material is wood, stone or steel. And he does nothing by halves. Why should he, since he can achieve whatever he sets his mind to, using his hands and his tools? Although graduating from school as a furniture designer, Jørgensen also trained as a sculptor, working mainly in stone in his 20s. Now, two decades later, he has embraced steel. Always curious about the material, he is now driven to explore its plasticity, discovering how an industrial cylinder can be transformed to hold an organic and artistic potential that challenges conventional thinking.

In his work with steel, Jørgensen investigates how the basic geometry of a steel tube is affected when the material is subjected to pressure. The result is an organic articulation with strong references to nature — and to wood, a material he knows by heart. Jørgensen has learned the techniques involved: welding, forging, using a hammer and anvil, and using a jack to compress the steel. Five targeted pressure points, and the steel tube begins to look like a bench. His organic expression stands in stark contrast to the indus- trial universe of machinery. A steel tube becomes a totem symbolizing the link between nature and industry. The act of reshaping the tube and wrestling with its artistic potential appeals to Jørgensen, and during the creative process he is more interested in what the material affords and how it reacts than whether the result is art or design. To him, the goal is to explore a material and the possibilities it can offer in order to arrive at his own unique synthesis of matter and idea. Scale also plays a compelling role in Jørgensen’s work; a simple scaling up of a design or an idea brings out the unexpected and magical. It allows the steel to dominate the room with a grounded materiality; the totem has a palpable impact as it bellows out its strength. Jørgensen does not raise his voice but lets his restrained and powerful sculptures speak for him.

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