Paul Jacobsen: Spirit Orbs

March 31 – April 30, 2016


Press Release

Paul Jacobsen

Spirit Orbs


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 significance of 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.