Bruno Cora, 2017
The works exhibited in the S. Agostino church are among Jørgen Haugen Sørensen’s later works showing his return to clay as an artistic medium. With his usual, pronounced controversial flair for depicting his own time, 48 Heads and I Think I See stands as satirical, unsettling and very unflattering paraphrases of our present day. Violence, suffering, war, suppression, censorship, and freedom of speech are recurring themes in the works exhibited in the church of S. Agostino. Here, a bleak outlook appears as an existential - and uncomfortable - clarity of vision. At the same time the exhibition marks a radical shift in the artist’s idiom.
From having worked with a startling, plastic and complex mode of abstraction for years, he has now arrived at a more direct, figure-based and narrative sculpture. The contorted clay signals a new, sensuous expressivity that unmistakably belongs to Sørensen, yet has allegorical layers.
A distinctive feature of Sørensen’s recent work is the remarkable preponderance of animals, especially of dogs. And it is clear that his penetrating observation of their postures, their habits, their needs, their suffering and their very animal condition interests him greatly, as revealed by the humanizing transference of their behavior.
They express a vast sentiment of existential nonsense, a panic and fundamentally dramatic reality, a ubiquitous anxiety in their lazing in involuntary lethargy with no hope or awareness of any possible change.
Essentially, like Bulgakov in Heart of a Dog, Sørensen has morphed their unmentionable feelings into his own and our own, evoking the not uncommon suspicion that their features and expressions are not dissimilar from ours, and that therefore, ultimately and without too many maybes, they could be us, or speak of us, in a different guise.
Anyone who has had or loved a dog knows what I’m talking about, and above all knows what they are talking about – the dogs, that is, – without speaking.