Mourning Flags January 12th – February 18th, 2017

Galerie Tanja Grunert is pleased to present Mourning Flags, Paul Jacobsen's fifth solo exhibition with the Gallery. For the past 8 years, Jacobsen has been making his "Charcoal Flags," framing them in charred wood, and allowing the charcoal used in drawing work to run. This form of art not only addresses political concerns, but draws the viewer's attention back to the meanings of the materials used to pro duce the work. In Mourning Flags, Jacobsen will continue his series by installing a group of his charcoal drawings of black flags. Since the 1880's, the black flag has been an authoritarian symbol, representing the absence of, and opposition to the nation state.

This past year the world has been subjected to the spectacle that we call democracy, causing many to question the proper role of government. Jacobsen argues that Democracy and Authoritarianism are not mutually exclusive. Although America has been far from egalitarian since its genocidal beginnings, Jacobsen believes we just added another embarrassing chapter to the book of history. In Mourning Flags, the work is not focused on the ideals of an economy with worker collectives, consumer cooperatives, or an end to the military-industrial complex. Instead Jacobsen wants to display a moment of silence and mourn all the hard fought victories of native, civil, women’s and gay rights that are now threatened more than ever, as well as the environmental and labor protections that are already being gravely attacked under this new regime.


Spirit Orbs March 31- April 30, 2016

Galerie Tanja Grunert is proud to present a solo exhibition of all new paintings by Paul Jacobsen. In his latest series, the artist visually investigates the phenomena of the spirit orb.  Dissimilar to earlier works’ subject of the lens flare, these are not the artifact of light refracting through the cameras lens and have a much more highly debated origin.  

In paranormal circles these are believed to be visible evidence of spirits.  In the new age community these spheres of light are thought to either be souls showing the mechanics of life after death, perhaps ourselves traveling outside our bodies, guardian angels or connected to the idea of a collective consciousness. However many see the orb as simply the presence of dust, moisture or even insects close up to the lens and caught by the flash or other strong light source.  The belief in the “ability” to capture other worlds through photography is nothing new dating back to the 19th century spirit photos (subject of a recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and that belief still persists.  

In the subject of the orb Jacobsen uncovered an opportunity to connect with artists of the past that drew inspiration from the spiritual, mystical and occult.  These include William Blake with his strange planetary orbs and eclipses, Odilon Redon’s vibrant and ethereal colors which influenced Jacobsen’s wide use of pastels in these works and Hilma Af Klint with her geometric representations of complex spiritual ideas. Beyond these few examples, the captivation with the perfection of the sphere and significanceof the circle is clearly present in Medieval and Renaissance paintings, drawings and illuminated text.  The circle has been used in art to represent all heavenly bodies, the sun (the imperishable spirit), the moon, the earth and even the sky has been shown as a circle.  The stars as a whole have been symbolized as a circle by the zodiac.  The sphere has also been used to personify cosmic time, in these orbs Jacobsen recognizes the ancients fascination with the Macrocosm.  The importance of orbs in human attempts to understand the great mysteries can’t be overstated.  

Accompanying the paintings, there is an installation of a salvaged wood structure directing the viewer’s eye upward into the cathedralesque gallery.   In the past exhibitions, Jacobsen has built cabins (one of which doubled as a camera obscura), he has also segmented spaces with wood beams to simulate domestic interiors and hand built vernacular.  For his latest exhibition, Spirit Orbs, Jacobsen takes the architecture of the church as inspiration placing an X’ed and arched divider in the back two thirds of the gallery creating a chancel to surround a virtual alter for the large scale painting on the back wall.

Paul Jacobsen was born in Denver in 1976. He grew up in a family of artists in a small mountain town in Colorado and moving to Brooklyn at a young age he has split his time between the two ever since. Forgoing a formal art degree Jacobsen has taken classes in Florence at Lorenzo De Medici Instituto de Arte, studied privately with realist painter Daniel Sprick and worked for Artists such a Jeff Koons and Rudolf Stingel . Typically working with traditional mediums such as oil paint, charcoal and pastel, Jacobsen investigates the intersection of civilization and technology. His works have been exhibited at MASS MoCA and the Aspen Art Museum, among other institutions. Jacobsen lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and Rico, Colorado. 


Outpost May 1 – May 29, 2015

David B. Smith Gallery is pleased to welcome New York-based artist Paul Jacobsen for his second solo exhibition at the gallery, opening on Friday, May 1. In Outpost, Jacobsen’s new body of work records scenes from a year when societal boundaries where crossed and personal dreams set into motion. The paintings in this exhibition continue and expand on the ideas of Jacobsen’s 2014 exhibition, “Lean-to,” which featured artworks that invited viewers to contemplate still life images of interiors from the artist’s domestic spaces and black and white arrangements from the artist’s work space. While seemingly traditional still lives, the works served as the artist’s subtle critique of industrialized society. The content and technique speak to Jacobsen’s attempt to insulate himself from this very type of industrial environment and modernist influences.

Jacobsen purchased a miner’s cabin in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado just prior to the legalization of marijuana, and the paintings in Outpost serve as documents of his experiments in growing this newly legal plant. In these still lifes, the marijuana plant is the central focus against a dark background, along with wild mushrooms collected on long hikes and crystals gifted from friends. These paintings hearken back to traditional Dutch paintings of tulips, itself a coveted plant in its day. Deploying the technique of lens flare, Jacobsen highlights the importance of the camera, while also referencing the religious, spiritual, and cultist motif of light symbolizing the divine. The usage of this “heavenly” light on these cannabis plants both humorously references ideas of the “sacred herb,” while serving as homage to this new law regarding marijuana - Jacobsen sees this as an innovative first step towards ending a global war on drugs.

One central work in the exhibition is an installation of wooden beams and stacked wood, referencing the artist’s cabin and adjacent dynamite storage shack that served as starting point for this body of work. This rural “outpost” – a self-imposed hermitage, provides a remote seclusion from modern industrial society. Jacobsen’s retreats to this reclusive space serves as a semblance of freedom from society and the possibility of self-sustenance, evoking the western, pioneering spirit of homesteading, and seeking the “American Dream” along the next frontier. Jacobsen’s work is interested in the stories that the objects of the material world hold and the stories within our living spaces.



Lean-to March 2-April 06, 2014

Gasser Grunert is pleased to announce the opening of Lean-to by Paul Jacobsen. 

Lean-to is conceptualized in three parts, one contained within another. The expanse of the gallery is taken over with a constructed architectural intervention of wood beams stretched across the space. Painted, grisaille representations of the artist’s studio are hung within these supports. Continuing “through” the show and stepping over and under the wooden armature, viewers will be faced with intimately scaled, colorful still life paintings from the artist’s own, hand built domestic spaces. These colorful still lifes are repeated within the grisaille paintings, and the wood beams are the same reclaimed wood the artist used to build his studio, and the cabins and shanties in which he resides. 

Having grown up between Brooklyn and Colorado, Jacobsen’s personal history infiltrates much of his aesthetic, which is inspired by the architectural salvage of Red Hook, Brooklyn and the handmade hippie constructions in the foothills of Colorado. All of Jacobsen’s houses are created in a patchwork fashion, cobbled together using reclaimed wood and found fixtures in an assemblage like manner. Jacobsen currently lives in a backyard shanty in Red Hook that is heated by a wood stove with no running water. The backshack, as it’s affectionately called, does have electricity, but its footprint is a mere 12 x 17 feet. In 2010 Jacobsen built a cabin on wheels at Majestic Farm in Sullivan County, NY. The only amenity in this cabin is a small wood burning stove and colorful turkish kilims that line the walls for insulation. In Rico, Colorado, the artist recently acquired an old miner’s cabin in the San Juan Mountains, just outside of Telluride. Locally sourced antique quilts and rawhide chairs adorn the small cabin. These spaces and their furnishings function almost like time machines and rally against what Fraco La Cecla called the “plasticification of everyday life.” Inspired by William Morris, Jacobsen seeks to create these structures as a way to introduce beauty and pleasure to his daily pursuits and labors. They represent the artist’s intrinsic beliefs in regards to architecture, or anti-architecture, and the way in which objects affect our lives. 

Jacobsen’s interest in alternative architecture, design, and assemblage led him to consider a way in which these elements could be combined with a deep love of painting. He was inspired by the late18th century painters who would often employ grisaille to create the illusion of sculpture or relief, and has used this technique to bring these interests to the forefront of his work. In this show, the colorful still life paintings themselves become the subjects of Jacobsen’s larger grisaille paintings, expanding the frame or parameters of a single painting. This gesture is further extended into the space by framing the entire exhibition with salvaged wood beams. The partitioning of the back gallery echoes the dimensions of the backshack exactly. Jacobsen’s purposeful shift from objects to paintings and back again, propagates the fluid intersection between labor, aesthetics, and material. Much akin to Bonnard’s interiors and Monet’s gardens, or even to Rembrandt’s complex set constructions within his studio, Jacobsen has constructed the cabins, shanties, studio assemblages, and still lifes that have become the subject of his paintings.