Layered Images Relay The Message In This Englewood Artist’s Work


Andrew Jensdotter sits in his studio.

Artist Andrew Jensdotter relaxes in his studio in front of his work.

At first glance, Andrew Jensdotter’s acrylic paintings may make you question your vision. You think you can make out a recognizable form—or can you? Any uncertainty is the result of the artist’s slow, meticulous process, one that often begins with him mining photographs of popular figures from publications or online and then painting those images on canvas, directly on top of each other. “I paint over each previous painting until I have related a whole history,” says the Englewood- based artist. “I’ve used as many as 200 layers.”

A pair of colorful artworks hang side by side.

A pair of carved paintings, Comedian and Deviant, are displayed in his work space.

Painted brooms are composed into artwork.

For some of his work, Jensdotter incorporates common household items, such as brooms.

Andrew Jensdotter at work in his studio.

Andrew Jensdotter uses an angle grinder on a piece he calls Riot, which includes images of recent social unrest.

A close-up of a black-and-white artwork.

This artwork is part of a series using symbols developed by Dust Bowl-era migrants.

A detail of the studio's floor.

The small chips that are carved from Jensdotter's paintings cover the floor.

A group of paint cans in the artist's studio.

Paint cans hold the many colors the artist uses.

But he’s not done yet. Once the paint is dry, Jensdotter uses a straight razor to make precise nicks and chips to remove tiny bits of paint, creating a composite of all the images. “It’s a very subtle effect,” he says. “The result is a cross section of the painting’s history.”

Jensdotter has captured cultural icons ranging from Albert Einstein to Freddie Mercury to Kanye West. But he’s not, as he says, “a fanboy of pop culture.” Rather, he chooses his subjects based on what sparks his interest. For a recent series, that means not just one subject, but multiple people within an overarching group—everyone from singers to prophets. “The series is based on personality archetypes,” he says, pointing to a recent piece depicting noted comedians. “I painted people such as Eddie Murphy and Sarah Silverman on top of each other, alternating between male and female, and carved it into a composite of this community.”

As his work evolves, Jensdotter is exploring other techniques, such as working with a motorized angle grinder versus a straight-edge razor. He is also revisiting the use of symbols, something he experimented with earlier in his career. He uses household items (think Brillo pads and brooms) to examine daily life and industrial objects (such as highway reflectors) to tell his story of driving through the American West. “I’m diving back into symbols as a way of creating a narrative,” he says. As Jensdotter explores different mediums he emphasizes that there is one constant. “The biggest thing I can say about my work is I believe that it should come from life,” he says. “I’m always tearing myself away from what is contrived.”