Thursday, January 04, 2007

Art Space Talk: Marcus A. Jansen

I recently interviewed artist Marcus A. Jansen. Mr. Jansen is a New York based artist. He had his first exhibition in 1974 at New York City's prestigious Park Avenue Lever House at age six. Over 30 years have passed for the now multiple Biennial and International award winning painter who managed to convert his career from a Gulf War Soldier to transforming ordinary and often forgotten urban areas into icons.

Jansen is a leader in a growing dimension of Urban-contemporary artists that are quickly changing the face of traditional and non traditional art and visual media. He shares his experiences and observations with his audience through objects and human traces. "What used to be the fields for Van Gogh, is for my generation the urban enviroment" says Jansen.

The recently crowned “New Artist of the Year” 2005 by the Alliance for the Arts, has been juxtaposing sophisticated, cultural as well as socially inspiring works since his military discharge in 1997.

Fluent in the German language, Jansen has traveled extensively to places like SW and SE Asia and has resided in New York, the Netherlands and Germany as a child. He was commissioned by Ford Motor Company as their Centennial artist in 2003 where he showed at the Charles H. Wright Museum and has exhibited with art royalty such as Robert Rauschenberg and has worked with people like Laurence Gartel, Bruce George and Jerome Donson .

Mr. Jansen, is referred to in Paris France as the American "Pope" of Urban Expressionism. He is collected in Museums such as the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art .

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I guess the day when I realized that everything around us was art in some way shap or form. Whether conciously or subconciously. It may have been around the time shortly before I discharged from the Military."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "In every way possible I would say. From Politics to social injustice, it would be impossible for me to paint and not include those truth's in my work. There would be a sense that I am lieing that I would have to live with if I simply overlooked it. Especially in these times. I have been fortunate enough to be able to live in many parts of the world growing up , it's some of the cultural elements that I took with me."

Q. On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

A. "Generally one day to get the basics up. Then I return to go over each layer until the piece works for me, that usually takes about one week with constant editing. I never concider a piece completed until the viewer engages in it."

Q. Has your art ever been published?

A. "My art has been published since the late 1980's in the form of press and media and the later with our own publications, yes. However we do not massproduce my images to keep the integrity to the work and of course longterm value. It has hower just recently over the last ten years been attracting international attention. My first book Modern Urban Expressionism, The Art of Marcus Antonius Jansen was just released and I was honored to have it introduced by one of America's most credible Museum Director Jerome Allan Donson. Mr. Donson worked with some of the most noted artists in thie country such as Jackson Pollock,Willem de Kooning and Robert Rauschenberg. The book is available online signed and unsigned at: "

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "I concider all my exhibitions as most important because I am sharing with my audience. I may say that my Paris opening Voice of a Generation ment alot to me simply because it broke me into the European contemporary art market which was important to me. The part 1 movie footage produced by my producer/designer Laszlo Hagymasi was just released on youtube: , myspace; and on our website . there are 4 parts that will be completed in February 2007. Laszlo is the best in the business..."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "Yes music indeed. I choose my music based on my mood. It ranges from Classical music that brings out a certain intimacy with the work to Jazz and Hip Hop from the early years that tell a story like poetry. All of it transforms into a form of visual language that communicates."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "We have found that we appeal to a large and mixed market, from mature adults to teenagers. I'm assuming that has several reasons with one being that the work is a mix of young and old. My actual collectors that acquire work are largely well educated and globally exposed people that are seeking unique works of art and investments for their private collections. Because of the pricetags on the works and due to demand lately, this has been the direction it has taken us. The strongest market is between 30-50 yars old I would say. Young Urban Professionals, indeed a new and rising market that has problems finding something truth in art and that represents us, meaning this generation.."
Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "(No Plane), I painted it last year 2006. It reflects the notion of the conspiracies that are in the air of what actually happened on September 11th 2001 and what happened with the actual planes in the Pentagon and over Philladelphia. Many people seem to be very unsatisfied with the explainations that have surfaced with very little detail about actual parts of the plane being found that seem to have not been made public. I thought it was appropriate to document that fact in a painting and to suggest for more explaining that can be done to simply give people a sense of understanding on why that is."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "I attended one year at the “Berufsfachschule fuer Gestaltung (Design) ” in Moenchengladbach Germany where I studied everything from photography to simple designing. Then I attended a three year school for painters in Germany in which the main focus was painting, paints, architectural structures of buildings and composition as well as colors. This indeed helped my understanding quite a bit. But the initial spark to do art was influenced from the streets of New York where I was born in the 1960’s seeing old subway cars sprayed with graffiti art that would pass by as I navigated the urban landscape. So my "education" is certainly a combination of school and just paying attention to where we live. Art is about perception and vision not soley about skill."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I love paint, it is free and I wanted to use it as such not confine it. However I would never limit myself to just that."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "Offical Jansen website is: . "

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

A. "We have various Galleries in the US and abroad that we work with now and permanent exhibitions with our partners in Los Angeles: Lawrence Asher Gallery 5820 Wilshire Boulevard, Ste. 100 Los Angeles, CA 90036, Gallery on Fifth 680 Fifth Ave South Naples FL 34102, Paul Alexander Gallery 59 Fountain Street Framingham, MA 01702 and American Art Gallery 14 rue des Jardins, St. Paul 75004 Paris France which is the first exclusive Jansen Gallery in the World.

My current solo exhibition is at Lawrence Asher Gallery runs until 03.10.2007. Artillery Magazine in Los Angeles should have a review out next with a one on one interview we did while I was there this weekend."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "My biggest achievements are being included in Who's Who in American Art the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum, The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art and Ford Motor Company."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "Urban trend in the visual arts is one, social trends and political trends. I think people and artists alike are sick and tired of lies. People want truth and I believe artists are partially resposible for expoloring those truths and representing them as accurately as possible based on their understanding. Not every work will be a commercial hit at doesn't need to be. I understand it’s a commercial world which doesn't mean the artists should focus on commercial success. But if we have to be commercial let’s do it in a way where we highlight things that need it. Wouldn’t that be a challenge for any artist? It is for me."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Stay true to you art, determined and most of all in control of your art as much as you can. Artists now have more power because of the internet become partners with your galleries not employees. Use the internet while it is still free."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "No, not yet. Quite surprising. . However there are many galleries that will not take a risk with artists that are a risk for them financially. Keeping in mind that Galleries are retailers. This may be an issue for many artists. My Galleries are solid, they believe in me as much as I believe in them, we work as a team to acomplish one objective.I have ran into that in the past but ignored it and drove on to the next if it happens. There is a market for anything, you just have to find it and if you can’t , good for you, make one."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "Sure, like most artists do I would assume. The beginning was hard. Getting into Galleries. My initial goal was to live off what I love to do when I started and to create something that hadn’t done before. I now achieved it. In many ways it was much like a Military operation to me with many ups and downs. My motto was what I learned in the Military, never quit!"

Q. Why do you create art?

A. "I discover art more than I create it. Discovering art is the same as discovering your life. Both path's have to be planned and executed in order for you to succeed."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "Many times, it is on my mind and there for I do not hesitate to include it if I feel necessary especially in these times. The expressionists from the early 1900's were known to do that.I feel we are experiencing similar times now. War political changes all things that should influence artists in particular in their expression."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "Spiritualty and faith are the backbone of my work. It’s the unseen or unnoticed that attracts me."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "I would like to thank my supporters, galleries and especially my friends on"
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Marcus A. Jansen. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

patricia mcdermott said...

great great work, very original, i love it!!!