HISTORY / CHRONOLOGY
Marcus Antonius Jansen, was predestined to a career shadowed by conflict. He was named for the Roman general Marcus Antonius, whose romance with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra led to the civil war that almost brought the empire to ruin.
Born in New York City in 1968, Marcus Jansen creates powerful paintings that respond to his influences from growing up in the U.S. and Germany as well as cultural and social-political themes. His pioneering socially charged urban landscape paintings are influenced by the two opposite worlds he grew up in. Through his colorful and expressive brushwork, Jansen documents the human condition critically, socially and politically and invites the viewer to engage in the reflection since the late 1990's.
Jansen participated in his first international biennale at the 12th International Biennial Print and Drawing Exhibition, R.O.C., in Taichung, Taiwan at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art, in 2007, he was shortly after selected for the 8th. International Contemporary Art Biennale "Dialogues", St. Petersburg, Russia in 2008 and was the only U.S. painter selected winner at the 7th. International Art Prize Arte Laguna 2013, Venice Italy.
He had his first solo museum exhibitions in Europe at La Triennale di Milano Museum, Milan, Italy, in 2016, followed by The Kallmann Museum, Ismaning, in 2017 and the Zitadelle Museum, Berlin in 2018. His first U.S. solo museum exhibitions were held at The Rollins Museum of Art in 2020 and The Baker Museum, 2021 in Florida, where he currently resides.
His public collections include: The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Baker Museum, The Moscow Museum of Modern Art, (MMOMA), The New Britain Museum of American Art, The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, The Rollins Museum of Art, The University of Michigan Museum of Art, The Foundation Calosa, The PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art, The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art, The Housatonic Museum of Art.
Jansen, was highlighted in the art Documentary film titled, Marcus Jansen Examine and Report a Film by Emmy Award Winning Filmmaker John Scoular and is the founder of his foundation fund www.marcusjansenfoundation.org that assists marginalized communities, autism, mental health issues and the arts.
La Triennale Di Milano, Italy - Marcus Jansen DECADE Exhibition, 2016
Marcus Jansen's family was living in the Bronx, in New York City, when he was born in 1968 in Manhattan. He lived in the city during a period of economic decline and the emergence of a graffiti subculture on subway trains and walls that changed the city’s visual environment and eventually became Jansen’s first lasting impression and influences.
Jansen came from a working-class family and spent his first years in a high-rise apartment building in the Soundview section of the Bronx.
Jansen was raised by his grandparents and mother, a practicing nurse from Jamaica, to be later joined by his German-born father, who was a businessman, later historian and an avid viewer of news and politics, which exposed Jansen to observe images of the Vietnam war and Dr. Martin Luther King on television during his formative years, born only two months after Dr.King was shot. Those images were destined to be reinforced by his own military service and reflected in his art decades later.
Photo: Grandfather with Marcus on balcony in Bronx 12TH floor apartment.
Photos: Bronx, NY 1968/71
Jansen’s Father took his family and left the declining Bronx and moved to Laurelton Queens, and while attending PS 156 at age 6, Jansen was included in a New York City student art competition and exhibited a stunning painting of a lion on paper at the Lever House, in Manhattan, introducing him to the world of public art exhibitions.
Jansen's Aunt was quoted saying: "Marcus was always fascinated with the moon when driving by car over the bridges from Bronx to Queens. He used to think that moon was following him."
The moon is a symbol that appeared in many of his paintings later.
PS: 156 in Laurelton, Queens 1974, where he painted a lion that showed at the Lever House in Manhattan at age six.
Example of similar painting
Photos: Queens, NY, 1975
1978, Long Island , New York
His family, frustrated with racial tensions left New York City during the cities steep decline shortly after a post-segregation era where interracial marriages had just become legalized in the United States and shortly before the explosion of the punk rock and hip hop art scene. See New York Times link: Laurelton in Queens "once was Ideal." and Laurelton and the Intergradation fight. "
Jansen was transplanted from the Big Apple to Moenchengladbach, Germany, his father's birthplace also known for the birthplace of German Painter, Markus Lüpertz as well as Adolf Hitlers right hand man, Joseph Goebbels, located close to large American military bases in the 1980’s, nearby in Geilenkirchen and close to a town called Schinnen, Netherlands home to US Army Garrison Schinnen, a support base for US personnel assigned to nearby Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum which later became his introduction to joining the U.S. Armed Forces himself. Jansen was placed in a German-speaking Catholic school, where he faced linguistic challenges and severe racism as the only child of color but excelled in art more than academic subjects.
First visit to Paris France 1980. Jansen watching street painters paint impressionist painting styles.
Copyright: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Woman in the Green Blouse (ca. 1912-1913)
Jansen was early on fascinated by seeing art in Germany by German Expressionist painters he would see by walking by on posters and other publications and museums while in Europe but wanted to take the flat appearance into 3Dimentions and ask light.
Only later understanding the underestimated racial dynamics that would surround his son in Germany, Jansen's father suggests for him to returned to stay with his grandparents in the Bronx during the 1980s subcultural movement over the summers while a rebellious graffiti art movement was dominating the city and served as his first major influence.
Jansen returned to NY in 1982, the year the Steven Spielberg movie, E.T. hit the box offices nationwide. He was surprised as to what happened to his city of birth since he left and immediately became involved in art forms of the subculture, and quickly adopted graffiti writing as a vehicle of communication while being among the wave of artists to introduce it in Germany, impressed by the art that was altering the urban landscape in New York and Europe as he witnessed both emerge on both sides of the Atlantic.
Jansen battling US soldier PFC Gray on floor at The Soul Center in Moenchengladbach Germany 1984 during breaking competition.
First encounter with Robert Rauschenberg book 1984
Jansen later encountered a book about Robert Rauschenberg at a German train station, and although he had never heard of the artist, was fascinated by the cover depicting instruments mounted on wood in a golden color--Rauschenberg's famous combines. They exuded a strong urban, inner-city feel that he had not encountered in museum art.
Politics, current events and world history were at the forefront of discussions initiated by his historian father during much of Jansen’s upbringing. Growing up, he experienced challenges with family and audiences relating his paradoxical cultural influences, and sought new ways of bridging social, cultural and economic class differences in his art.
It was the vibrant German Expressionist painters and up-and-coming graffiti artists he encountered during travel to Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels, and the action painters from New York, that left their strongest imprint on Jansen.
Attracted by movement, color and motion, he is still drawn to these impulsive, rebellious avant-garde painters, and sees a common thread between the graffiti artists and contemporary masters that he explores in his work. Jansen believes that impulsive and subconscious work is a direct reaction to the oppressive politics and economically disadvantaged and regimented environment from which it arises.
He states, “A civilized society is forced to renounce instinctive behavior; it is up to the artist to bring it to the surface.”
In 1986, Jansen met Manhattan-based graffiti writer WEST Rubinstein, aka WESTONE, on trips back home who had already made his mark as noted in the book Graffiti Kings, by Jack Stewart, and is introduced to the artist by Jansen’s Godmother, Florence Parkinson, while staying with her on West 96th Street on the upper west side. WEST who lived in an apartment with his mother a train ride down on West 72nd street, inspired Jansen to paint, and he cites their meeting as his first major art inspiration to take action. WEST Became a continued inspiration for Jansen over the years into the 90's and had a cameo appearance in Jansen's documentary Examine and Report.
WEST Rubinstein in Examine and Report documentary
1986, Midtown Manhattan, New York City Murals. Photo by Marcus Jansen
W. 72nd subway stop in Manhtaan 1980's the train stop to the neighborhood where Jansen met WEST
WEST with Marcus Jansen. Reunion in the Bronx 2019. Photo taken in New York at The Bronx Museum of the Arts during Henry Chalfants Opening Exhibition Jansen was a donor to the Exhibition and WEST was one of the Participants Organizers to the exhibition.
Marcus Jansen with then Girlfriend and friends, 1987 in Amsterdam Netherlands tagging with TRAZONE
Marcus Jansen and Marian Shelton, in front of his piece, 1987
Gravitating toward the instinctive impulse versus what Jansen sees as regimented academics, he completed high school, and at the request of his father, attended the Berufsfachschule, in Monenchengladbach, for one year, where he studied graphic art and Interior decoration (Gestaltung). Exposure to photography, design, technical drawing, paint and color gave Jansen an understanding of the basic structure of the arts.
He became bored and left, but like Willem de Kooning, Jansen began an apprenticeship as a commercial house painter and interior decorator, where he was introduced to the oil enamel paints that remain his medium of choice. Jansen completed his training and spent time between Maastricht, Netherlands, and NRW, Germany.
Daisy Dee with Kanye West and Marcus Jansen with Daisy Dee 1994
Jansen met who would become a crucial first support Daisy Dee, former host of the German VIVA TV station Club Rotation in 1987 at the iconic nightclub called The Soul Center. Located in Moenchengladbach Germany named on of the top 5 nightclubs in all of Germany where African American G.I.s and Afro British soldiers spent their weekends and the latest in R&B and Hip Hop music was played by DJ Andre Fossen. Daisy became his biggest supporter for Jansen and started to give him commissions. Traveling throughout Europe, he was further exposed to more art and culture including a first trip to the Louvre in Paris.
Marcus Jansen with his Platoon during Bootcamp, at Fort Leonardwood, MO.1990
Desert Storm -DMZ South Korea. - Desert Storm
With the graffiti movement dying down in both New York and Europe, thinking he could not make a living or compete with many before him he admired, Jansen enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces in 1989 and was immediately deployed with his unit at Fort Bragg, N.C., to Operation Desert Storm in August 1990.
He returned in April 1991 among the last units and was stationed, among other areas, in “Dragon City”, Dharan, close to a devastating missile attack. On February 25, 1991, he witnessed the explosion from his guard duty tower and was flown by helicopter to the frontline battlefield toward the end of his tour, where he saw the devastation left by allied forces.
Returning from that tour, Jansen had more questions than answers, later creating a series titled “Aerial Views” inspired by this event as the artist explored topics such as increasing surveillance later in his career. He was trained at Fort Bragg, home of the Airborne and Special Forces operations for another two years before being deployed to the demilitarized zone in South Korea for a year, where he was introduced to an large aerial drone for the fist time that left an impression on him.
After returning to the U.S. from his assignment in South Korea, he underwent art therapy treatment at Walter Reed Hospital, in Maryland, for PTSD while stationed in Maryland with a Military Intelligence Battalion for three years where Jansen frequently stayed in New York or Baltimore on weekends selling street wear clothing and mix tapes to G.I’s to make extra money.
His artwork got the counselor's attention during art therapy classes, inspiring Jansen to think about painting again.
Jansen was then assigned to Fort Campbell with the infamous 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles) and enrolled in management college classes while stationed at Fort Campbell Kentucky during Primary Leadership Development Course, through Austin Peay State University while working towards his promotion to Sergeant and gave briefings on PTSD to senior officers in M.D.at the Military Intelligence Battalion Aberdeen Proving Grounds where he was stationed for three years.
He was stationed in Germany for his last duty assignment with the 1st Infantry Division in Vilseck, Bavaria, and moved in with girlfriend, an economics major from RWTH Aachen, originally from Greifswald, in former East Germany.
In 1996, Jansen takes his first trip to Fort Myers Florida to visit his parents who just bought a house in the region. It became Jansens first visit to Florida State where he later decided to retire from his Military career with the rank of Sergeant, E-5.
SGT Jansen Vilseck, Germany U.S. Army Barracks with first art works in 1997 before his discharge,
Marcus Jansen / MEPS tag.
Marcus Jansen studio works on cardboard after his Military Discharge in 1997, in Aachen Germany with works that were sold on street fairs and street corners in New York City in 1999.
His own art career began preparing in his Vilseck Germany Army barracks and then Aachen, Germany, the same year, arranging a debut exhibition at Aula Carolina. For the first time since his discharge, he is noted by the newspaper AachenerZeitung. He gave himself the name MEPS in 1996, for Marc's Essential Painting Skills and used it as his synonym, inspired be the Army MEPS station and being attracted to the letters.
Jansen married his girlfriend Michaela Jansen and she became his biggest supporter during the first part of his career, encouraging him to paint in a more urban style going back to his roots investigating where is was from after his discharge.
He became more critical of U.S. foreign interventions and attitudes regarding U. S. foreign policy and undeclared military interventions, and was discharged honorably in 1997. His first website was set up by his close friend Rico Suarez in 1997, an Army buddy who he decided to partner with.
1997, Urban Combat 88x88"
1997,Subway, 82, one of the first urban expressionism works on cardboard as seen in the Source Magazine in 2001.
1999 - 2002 works
Jansen’s longtime friend Daisy Dee who he met when only sixteen, commissioned Jansen for two works that were later sold to LL Cool J and Babs, cofounder of FUBU clothing and manager of FUBU Europe after his military discharge in 1997.
After many galleries in Germany declining to show his work, Jansen decided to return to New York City in 1999, to test his work with a larger international audience while having difficulty holding other jobs due to his PTSD.
He hopped between the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan, selling his work on streetcorners, often making one- or two-hour commutes to set up where he started creating gritty urban sceneries reflecting on issues of poverty, decayed areas underlying economics, using traditional European painting techniques crossed over into a hybrid style responding to his many years of observed paradox’s between places by using graffiti like colors to arrest his viewers to often socio-politically charged subjects.
1999, photos from Prince Street and Broadway, New York City with Harlem Deli, 30x40" on cardboard by Marcus Jansen. The first urban work by Jansen after his Military Discharge painted in 1997 that started an exploration of marginalized urban neighborhoods.
Collection: Actor John Ortiz
John Ortiz 24 years later at Frieze Los Angeles in front of Marcus Jansen's "Grocery Left Standing" 2023 at Almine Rech Booth.
After returning to his native New York he set up on the street corner of Prince Street and Broadway with artist colleague Carlos Ramsey to sell their works and became part of a group of artists often referred to as “PrinceStreetKings” that displayed their art on the streets of SOHO while being a bartender on weekends at the Carltun in Long Island being taught how to mix drinks by his God Sister Elissa Panoune in Queens. He revisited his old mentor, WEST Rubinstein, who was running the successful PNB Nation clothing line from lower Manhattan and encouraged Jansen to continue his art.
His painting “subway82”, in Germany before arriving which became his first printed work to make money fast and was chosen in a NYC Russel Simmons art competition in the semifinal round to show at the Copacabana night club under the name MEPS MILLENNIUM, where he met one of the people he admired growing up “Crazy Legs” from the infamous Rock Steady Crew, who admired Jansen's work and congratulated Jansen on the win after seeing the work hanging.
Hollywood actor John Ortiz purchased Jansen's “Harlem Deli” (signed MEPS), after stopping by while filming a movie in Manhattan. During this period. Jansen also sold his highest-priced street painting at the time for $750 to New York art dealer Monya Rowe before she became a dealer.
In the same year, Jansen's studio co-founder and best friend for many years in the armed forces, Sgt. Robert Suarez, dies in a military accident in Heidelberg, while Jansen is in SOHO. The artistcontinues to paint to escape the feeling of loss, expanding his style and subject matters.
Jansen revisits old corner on Prince Steet and Broadway, Soho, New York City, 2019
Corner of Prince Street & Broadway, Lower Manhattan 1999 - Bar tendering Long Island
Marcus Jansen on his corner with clients on Prince Street and Broadway, SOHO, New York City 1999.
Marcus Jansen on his corner of Prince Street and Broadway, SOHO, New York City 1999.
Prioritizing family life to, Jansen left the streets of New York against his artist friends' advice in NY and moved to Atlanta in August 2001 with his then-wife Michaela. One month later, the September 11 attack took place, where many of his “PrinceStreetKings” friends witnessed the event first hand and left the city, never to return. He showed in Atlanta at the leading Bill Lowe Gallery among others.
Notorious Art Dealer Richard Beavers with Marcus Jansen at his Motthavan, Bronx studios 2019.
Marcus Jansen with Richard Beavers in New York
New York dealer Richard Beavers with Marcus Jansen and painting by Nathaniel Mary Quinn at Young Art Collectors party in Miami 2021
Richard Beavers, an urban art enthusiast and cultural game-changer in Bed Stuy Brooklyn, saw Jansen’s gritty urban work in an ad in The Source magazine that same month of the Twin Towers collapse. An MTV employee at the time who Jansen encouraged to open an art gallery, Beavers became Jansen's first New York collector and later his main New York art dealer and appeared in Jansen’s first film Examine and Report. Beavers started selling Jansen’s work, with a strong focus on the New York market, placing works with NBA New York Knicks all-star Carmelo Anthony and noted collector Peggy Cooper-Cafritz from his gallery on Marcus Garvey Boulevard with an emphasis on pushing underrepresented artists of color and socio-political works creating a movement that changed the cultural landscape in Bedstuy Brooklyn.
In 2003, the Jansen's had a first born son and received his biggest commission at that time from the Ford Motor Company, in Dearborn, Detroit where Filmmaker Spike Lee was invited and given Jansen’s first book and a signed print.
Concerned by a new imperialist Iraq war looming and the prospects of US soldiers being sent to repeat potential atrocities against a country not connected to the event, Jansen started shifted course from purely urban paintings to a “controlled chaos” and critical commentary in his uniquely Jansen hybrid style, exploring the human condition in the post-911 era in his work by drawing upon his own global experiences of having lived in various parts of the world drawing parallels between historic and contemporary worlds for a 21st century response in painting using often urban landscapes as a stage while many claims were being made that “painting was dead.”
Jansen moved to Fort Myers, Florida with his wife and first son, where he continued working, unknowingly not far from 20th-century master Robert Rauschenberg's residence on Captiva and Sanibel Island.
Quote: “I believed he was the originator of a new movement which I called “Urban Expressionism” and that I believed that there will be many followers in this new style. But there will only be one Marcus Jansen.”
- Jerome A.Donson curator of Vanguard American Painting 1961, organized by the U.S. Information Agency.
2005, Jansen with artist Laurence Gartel who wrote text for Jansen's first catalog in Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach
Jansen family arrival 2003 in Fort Myers, Florida - Robert Rauschenberg (wheelchair) photo taken by Marcus Jansen the day the two met and showed at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery
Art Historian Jerome A. Donson American Museum Director and Curator of the American Vanguard Exhibitions, 1961 Action Painters.and Jansen at the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers Florida 2004.
Jansen in his first large studio UNIT B in Fort Myers Florida where many of his major works were produced in often 110 degrees as the studio did not have AC.
Photo: Sabrina Jansen
2005, Over The Hump
2010, Marcus Jansen with first international agent, Robert Casterline from the documentary "A Painters Allegory," Currently Directory of the Gallery Casterline Goodman in Aspen, Co.
Dealer Robert Casterline, Marcus Jansen with Jordan Goodman, Aspen, CO Gallery.
“In the late 1940s, Abstract Expressionism developed as an aesthetically pure style, stripped of the political content of 1930s Depression-era art, memorably dismissed by Arshile Gorky as “Poor art for poor people.” That attitude persisted until a counter-reaction set in a generation later, launching conceptual and postmodern art, informed by a progressive, critical viewpoint. Those of us who agreed with the politics also, unfortunately, had to concede that decoding the sometimes convoluted intellectual puzzles was like taking medicine, and not user-friendly enough for the “masses.”
Combining sociopolitical content with visual pizazz, however, can be done. John Heartfield’s anti-Nazi photomontages; Anselm Kiefer’s mythic war-torn landscapes; the anti-imperialist paintings of Manuel Ocampo; Käthe Kollwitz’s powerful prints about class oppression and struggle; and Sue Coe’s scathing eviscerations of the industrial slaughter of animals are all passionate and compassionate. Marcus Jansen belongs to this humane, humanist tradition.
Mission accomplished. Jansen employs abstraction to explore psychic chaos and conflict, in traditional AbEx style, but in his hands, improvisation opens the valves of feeling (to paraphrase Francis Bacon) and experience; he re-enacts or works through (his words) memories of war in the arena of the canvas, creating enthralling panoramas that pit the terrible beauty of destruction against our conflicting moral sentiments. Pictorial space is inconsistent or ambiguous, as in a dream (or in a damaged building near collapse). Tiny figures wander through the detritus, like the tourists and gypsies in paintings of classical or Gothic ruins by Hubert Robert and Caspar David Friedrich.”
- Artillery Magazine, (full article)
In 2004,Jansen had an opportunity to show with Robert Rauschenberg in support of a local Arts for Act charity at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery almost immediately after arriving in Florida, and was introduced by Grammy Award-winning musician Kat Epple after Rauschenberg viewed Jansen’s painting and complimented his work.
The same year, Jansen met art historian Jerome A. Donson. The former director of the famous American Vanguard Exhibitions 1961, which traveled to Europe and included Rauschenberg, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and others, discovered Jansen's work. Donson wrote about the artist in the artist's first French catalog, Marcus Antonius Jansen: Modern Urban Expressionism.
In 2006, Jansen was selected for his first major Florida State competition, “under/current/overview 8 Biennial,” at the Tampa Museum of Art showing his urban landscapes and in 2007, Jansen was included to the St. Petersburg/Russia - Central Exhibition Hall, Manege 8th. International Biennale of Contemporary Art, “Dialogues” attending his first international biennale and the work “The Swallows Symbol” was placed into the Moscow Museum of Modern Art MMOMA permanent collection which became Jansens first oversees museum collection.
Jansens first international representation was with Robert Casterline from now the Casterline Goodman gallery in Chicago after his wife seeing Jansen's work in a magazine and the approaching Jansen. Casterline introduced Jansen work to the market in 2007 at Bridge Art Fair with immediate sold out shows.
Jansen started painting often decaying landscape sceneries with protesting economic undertones shortly before the housing market crash in 2008.
Jansens first non museum Institutional show was at the Yeiser Art Center in Kentucky where he showed urban landscape and started painting in large for the first time in 2008 landing his work titled “Foreclosure” on the cover of The Internatioal Review of African American Art Volume 22.
2006 / 2007
Jansen in studio 2016
The Swallows Symbol, 30x40" oil enamel, on canvas
The Mosco Museum of Modern Art permanent collection 2007
First Overseas Museum collection.
The International Review of African American Art, Vol. 22 No. 2 (2008) - HU Museum Store (hamptonu.edu)
Yeiser Art Center, solo show, first institutional exhibition of urban works in Paducah, Kentucky, 2007.
First larger scale work, 2008, Foreclosure, 108x72" after painting relatively smaller works early in his career.
2007, Empty Plates, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Permanent Collection
2007, Empty Plates, The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Permanent Collection
He began painting large-scale works in the post-9/11 era, and was alarmed by the emerging surveillance state in 2008 and 2009. The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, whose founder, Bebe and Crosby Crosby Kemper, purchased three works, two of which for the museums collection and one for theory private. The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art became the first US Museum to purchase Jansen’s works in 2008.
Jansen was commissioned for a political satire as part of the Warner Brothers 70th anniversary. He was also selected as one of only nine other Americans for the 12th International Print & Drawing Biennial in Taiwan at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art, with juror David Kiehl, from the Whitney Museum of Art, in 2007. the Museum includes the award winning print in it’s permanent collection titled, “Urban Times,” Jansen’s first showing in Asia.
E Pluribus Unum, 48x60" oil enamel mixed media on canvas 2008. Warner Brother Commission.
2009, Cyber Surveillance on wasteland - First large Surveillance work
Jansen started exploring surveillance as a subject in 2009, before discussions with Edward Snowden became mainstream news and shortly after his return trip from London in 2008 for his show Urban Expressionism, with Stolen Space Gallery. At the time London was ranked the leading surveillance state in the world and Jansen painted out of concern and interest in the ever-growing idea of being watched.
Jansen shifts from exterior to interior sceneries in 2008, usually abandoned areas
War Room with Red Bench 2008
2009 - 2010
Marcus Jansen Manufactured Landscapes, 108x72" 2009.
Quote: “Marcus is the innovator of Modern Expressionism. What initiated it for him was the graffiti on the sides of subway trains when he traveled from the Bronx to Manhattan to sell his work on the street. This is somewhat reminiscent of Jackson Pollock learning to kneel with the Hopi Indians and throw sand to make sand pictures. That innovation may have been the beginning of Abstract Expressionism.”
- Jerome A.Donson curator of Vanguard American Painting 1961, organized by the U.S. Information Agency.
“You get the sense in a Jansen painting that a great power or an unknown destructive force is at work, ravaging the landscape. This force could be the military complex or it could be nature taking back the planet through global warming. Other aspects seen and felt in a Marcus Jansen painting are levels of control. The feeling of servant vs. master, groupings of figures vs. chaos and the sense that we are viewing a world out of balance or a world out of control. The scale of the human figure in his paintings is an aspect.”
- Whitehot Magazine (full article)
Responding to his wife being diagnosed with Cancer at the young age of 34 that led to a two year struggle of survival, Jansen addressed politics, social issues and has a particular focus on GMO food production, the patenting of pig DNA and had a painting titled Patented Pigs 2008, included in the New Britain Museum of American Art permanent collection, as well.
Animals with target series
2008 - 2009 work Influenced by the Commission by Warner Brothers
Clip from the film A Painters Allegory, 2010 which became the last public footage on film by Mrs. Jansen filmed only three months before her passing..
,2010, footage from the documentary "A Painters Allegory," with Sloan Saffer, Director at 101Exhibit, Miami
Jansen was approached and commissioned by Absolut Vodka in 2011, becoming part of the next generation in the tradition of popular of Absolut artists following in the footsteps of Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Keith Haring while showing at 101 Exhibit in Miami with Sloan Shaffer with his show titled "Zeitgeist."
During the process of the 2011 Absolut commission, Jansen was asked to be the poster child for the campaign and to fly to Portugal to shoot the commercial. Due to his wife’s condition, Jansen declined and stayed with his wife and longtime supporter who died days after enduring a two-year struggle, with Jansen as sole caretaker leaving Jansen with two sons to raise on his own. Emotionally and financially bereft, he restarted his art career from scratch.
In response to his wife’s death, Jansen opened a large, 7,000-square-foot public studio known as UNIT A, first on Evans Avenue and then on Martin Luther King Boulevard, in the what used to be a segregated area of Fort Myers Florida that served as a catalyst for the city's art community, bringing in an international and diverse clientele, recently being named “Gardners Park.”
Chief curator at the Orange County Museum of Art Dan Cameron selected “Creeping Obstacles In Kansas” for the cover of New American Paintings Volume 94.
2011, Absolut JANSEN, Absolut Blank Campaign Bottle
ABSOLUT JANSEN / Absolut Blank Campaign proofs for selection
2011 first created Faceless portraits
2012 first created Faceless portraits
UNIT B studios with Faceless works
2012, works, 7x14" acrylics on canvas
2012 works in acrylics n canvas.
2012, Appearing Figures
Marcus Jansen examining Classical painting at Ringling Museum of Art, Florida
Jansen completed a series of small 7x14," 11x14" and 12"x12" abstract Landscapes while and after being in the Hospital after his wife's death. Not able to get back to studio practices, Jansen used this time to do many in the series which he later transformed into large canvas scenes. He started a series of works called Appearing Figures after his spiritual journey the same year.
He later departs from landscapes and his newly distorted portraits which he then titled “Faceless” challenged classical portrait painting and norms and focused on emotion and character of the subjects rather than defined faces. Some portraits distorted representing people of power and some highlighting ordinary people forgotten or overlooked.
The paintings were painted in 2011 and first released in 2012. Works from that series were first included by the controversial curator Marat Guelman in Russia at the PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art “Anonymous” biennale for the first time in 2012 and are since in the museums permanent collection. The artist later also was selected to show at The Housatonic Museum of Art where his work “Airborne to the Rescue.” was added to their permanent collection in 2012.
“Anonymity and its consequences, both good and bad, are at the forefront of Anonymous, an exhibit that opened up just last Friday at the PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art (PERMM) in Perm, Russia. Florida artist Marcus Jansen, who is considered by many to be the 21st century’s response to artists like Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg, will be representing the United States with a series of paintings called “Faceless.”
- Chaos Magazine, 2012
In 2013, Jansen was named a winner of the Arte Laguna Biennale Prize, in Venice, Italy, where he was asked to stage a solo exhibition in Milan Italy for the first time. The show was publicized by Rolling Stone, Arte, XL Repubblica, and ESPOARTE with the title, "A New Star is born?" Naples, Florida's Baker Museum included Jansen in their annual exhibition (Florida Contemporary) in 2014.
2011, Jansen in his UNIT B studios, Fort Myers, Florida creating his first Aerial Views
The Overseer, 2011
The same year, Jansen departed again from his socially charged landscapes and experiments further with faceless portraits and this time an “Aerial Views” series, showing works that were inspired by unused table tops he used as paint pallets to make three-dimensional landscape works of art, inspired by his Gulf War Helicopter surveillance view from the sky on to the battlefield in 1991 which Jansen displays in his first New York City solo exhibition, titled, FUTURE GROUND, held at Castle Fitzjohn's in the Lower East Side, organized by his dealer Richard Beavers in collaboration with Gallery owner Vincent Harris in 2014. It catches the attention of then director Brooke Lynn Mcgowan who later appeared in Jansens first documentary. Click here
3D Installations - Orwellian TV and Resistance 2014
2015, (first large work in the Colonialist series) - (Later 2021 expanding to recent works.)
David and Goliath 2020.
“The Colonialist may be fading, but he is also wearing the red tie. He is ready for work and so I must also be ready for the work. A daily and pervasive commitment to clear my own haze.”
- Cole W. Williams, (full article)
Emmy Award Winning Filmmaker, John Scoular and UK, Leading Urban art Gallerist, Steve Lazarides on set for Examine and Report in London 2016.
2014, Roberta Britto with Press at Museum Pinacoteca Benedito Calixto, Marcus Jansen, São Paulo with Jansen's "Foreclosures" painting in background.
The world's leading urban art dealer, Steve Lazarides, BANKSY’s first agent, invited Jansen for his first solo show titled, “Whistleblower” with the Gallery in 2014 and became his UK representative. The press reviewed the show and named Jansen “The Cartographer of Conflict.” Click here
Jansen also collaborated with Roberta Britto Gallery that year for a solo show at Museum Pinacoteca Benedito Calixto, Marcus Jansen, São Paulo, Brazil,
Both exhibitions gave Jansen immediate international press and served as a catalyst for future shows to come. Lazarides later appeared in Jansen high light documentary Examine and Report and in his first international Monograph., Marcus Jansen, DECADE in 2016 where Lazarides wrote the Foreword and the Lazarides important group show Still Here a Decade of Lazarides
The exhibition Featured the Galleries line up:
3D, Aiko, Anthony Lister, Antony Micallef, Banksy, Brett Amory, Chloe Early, David Choe, Doug Foster, Faile, Frank Laws, Gary Taxali, Herbert Baglione, Hush, Ian Francis, Invader, Joe Rush, Jonathan Yeo, JR, Karim Zeriahen, Katrin Fridriks, Know Hope / Addam Y, Lucy McLauchlan, Marcus Jansen, Mark Jenkins, Miaz Brothers, Mode 2, Nina Pandolfo, Oliver Jeffers, Pete Hawkins, Ron English, Sage Vaughn, Scott Campbell, Sickboy, Stanley Donwood, TEACH, Todd James / REAS, Vhils, Xenz, Zevs
Jansen’s Faceless series morphed into what appeared to be radical often white mask wearing colonialist portraits gestures in 2015 as he continued deconstructing the classical, fixed painting, history perceptions and previously held socially adored hierarchy narratives while Juxtapozing gestures of falling colonialism, capitalist and supremacy gestures inspired by his father's highly critical History Thesis titled: "The War of Independance or the American Revolution that was no Revolution: Another look at the reasons.”
in 2015 Jansen’s work, “Faceless Inmate” was invited to be in the New York City exhibition titled 60 Americans curated by the founders of New York based Artvoices and Whitehot Magazine, Terrence Sanders and Noah Becker where Jansen met both curators. This exhibition offered an alternative perspective on what's arguably relevant and important in the current landscape of American contemporary art and became winner of the 7th Arte Laguna Prize in Venice, Italy the same year with ESPOARTE Magazine posing the question "A Star was born?"
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"A NEW STAR IS BORN?"