Born in Berlin-Siemensstadt in 1942, Jürgen Tenz, a contemporary of the so-called “Trümmerkinder” years, stands for a generation of artists who, from the Second World War onwards, experienced Germany in the ups and downs of significant socio-historical changes: after the sapping post-war period, the years of the Economic Miracle, the division of Germany into East and West, Cold War, Wall building and reunification. Died in December 2021, the artist Tenz, who came from commercial graphics and scientific drawing, has spent his life dealing with the role of humans in society and the conflicts that exist between these two levels. Whether we encounter singular figures, figural scenes or masses of small bodies in his works, which, falling, flowing, form new large structures – everywhere something or someone seems to be at stake, yes, a process or a transformation seems to have started.
The variety of genres and styles that Tenz’ oeuvre brings together reflects how the artist kept asking himself new questions and how he was also looking for new formulations for classical themes shows his multi-layered attitude and independence: pen drawing, gouache, letterpress, painting, collage and etching.
What all works have in common is the decision for figurative representation, whether finely worked out in a masterly manner or lifted from reality by reduction and abstraction, whether in the concentration of black and white of graphics or in the colourfulness of expressive painting. The confrontation with ancient mythology as well as the play with art history, mechanics, social politics and the aesthetics of dance tell of the artist’s thirst for knowledge. It is not least in this respect that his work represents the progressive complexity and processuality of the 20th and 21st centuries in an extremely topical way.