Travis Jeppesen

 Dawn of the dead, filmstill, 1978

Dawn of the dead, filmstill, 1978

Contemporary abstraction borrows blindly from art history, all looks the same and works particularly well if you hang it over the sofa - this is the reproach at the heart of Walter Robinson's idea of "zombie formalism". But maybe art criticism has just forgotten how to look closely. Travis Jeppesen defends abstract painting against its opponents and hits the ball back into their court: it's time for critics to reengage with their subjects and find a new language for painting.

 Photo: Johannes Worsøe Berg

Photo: Johannes Worsøe Berg

The New York-based Norwegian artist is drawn to big subjects – violence, sexuality, destruction, aging, self-expression. His exhibitions are dense installations packed with paintings, sculptures, readymades, photographs, and contributions from friends working with art, design, or literature. Jennifer Krasinski speaks to him about the visual dimension of writing, the death drive in homosexuality, and the irrelevance of cultural relevance.