Yorkshire Sculpture Park


Essay on Jorgen Haugen Sorensen by Peter Murray, Executive Director, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1989

Jorgen Haugen Sorensen was my first real introduction to Danish contemporary sculpture when he made a presentation at the International Sculpture Symposium in Washington i 1980. Later we traveled by train together from Washington to New York when he showed me photographs of his sculptures. I still have vivid memories of that bumpy journey and the impact of those photographs.

Since then I have had the pleasure of seeing Haugen Sorensens work in many locations in Italy, Denmark and England. I am still mesmerised by the powerful forms, the subtle textures, colours and the fusion of tensions which often erupt into the most striking imagery.

Sorensens work holds its scale from the hand held to the monumental. It never seems to loose its vitality, the sheer delight of exploring three dimensional forms and the lush textures and colours of his material. His work never ceases to amaze or surprise me.

It is not oftenthat a country produces an artist who makes a unique contribution to the language of sculpture; a contribution that has the potency to break through cultural and natinal barriers. Denmark has such an artist in Jorgen Haugen Sorensen whose images, like the stone they are made from, have a durable quality. Although Haugen Sorensen has chosen to live elsewhere and has spent many years travellingand styduing in other countries, his psyche is quintessentially Danish. This in no way detracts from the internationalism. The affinity and understanding he has with his roots, combined with his passion and knowledge of other cultures, provide the fertile ground for his deeply-felt experiences to be transformed in the language of sculpture.

Jorgen Haugen Sorensen is unashamedly an object maker; a superb pracitioner of the art of aculpture. His understanding of form, space, materials and his sense of location enable him to mae works of great monumentality. A sureness of touch allows him to move easily from one medium to another manifested, for example in his engaging graphic work, which is forcefully expressive and his ceramic and bronze work of great authority – but in stone he excels!

Hacking, cursing, persuading and delicately launching he produces huge stone sculptures which never lose the artits initial inventive spontaneity. Often the require great engineering feats as he stacks unlikely load upon load and tests his technical abilities to their limit.

Although Sorensen has had for many years great success in creating monumental sculpture for public places, often enriching urban environments, I feel that his first major encounter with sculpture in the landscape was when he exhibited at the YSP in 1981. Here in the undulating English countryside, an environment which has a strong tradition of art and landscape, his work could be seen for the first time in the soft English light. In a parkland modelled in the grand manner of Capability Brown the siting of his landscapes exploited the vistas to great advantage. His work never lost its scale and was a credit to the home ground of Moore and Hepworth.

He returned in 1986 and participated in The Danish Show: Sculpture. Last year he contributed to Scultura: Carving from Carrara, Massa and Pietrassanta when he exhibited Stone Upon Stone, an ambitious work demonstrating a greated awareness and understanding of sculpture in the landscape.

This major sculpture, hewn and chisled from hard granite, gleamed against the lush green background of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park as the sunlight caught the carefully controlled varigated surfaces of the work. The apparent precarious balance of the two stones perched up on a massive monolith of granite with a geat sense of being. It was sited to enhance the visual potential of the work which could be viewed from long distances. The scale never diminished and its textured form forever changing as it appeared to shift, twist and alter as one approached.

Seen to great advantage in the speciousness of this English landscape his sculpture portrayed a quality and maturity which may be difficult to match, demonstrating why Jorgen Haugen Sorensen muct be considered to be one of the most original artists working in Europe.

Fotograf @ Jette Mühlendorph