Thijs Jansen


The perhaps surprisingly small size of Jansen's panels does not mean the works can be viewed with a cursory glance. On the contrary. The viewer wishing to take in all the details - how the light falls, the perspective, the spatial composition, the motifs or the varied painting techniques - of his precisely created compositions, will have to stop and take their time. "This format is a means of forcing a deeper level of concentration," says the artist.

In his most recent works we see two directions that seem to be each other's very opposite. His claustrophobic paintings of elevator interiors, their doors shut, reflecting nothing but a fluorescent sheen. These paintings, all executed during the pandemic, carry the weight of that hemmed-in year. In his latest work however he clearly takes a lead on our regained freedom in bright and colorful paintings. In his contemporary take on genre painting the theme of human contemporary existence is ironically and ambiguously depicted. His everyday subjects, which sometimes even appear banal or vulgar, are depicted in such a way that the 'ordinary' is transcended. Theatrical  use of light, decor-like stages, unusual perspectives, either the lack of human figures or the stiff appearance of the human being; all add to an alienating effect, and seems to make way for multiple interpretations. In 'All Inclusive' we see a floating flamingo party island as posted so often on Instagram by so-called influencers or celebrities. We see people of all color and nations sitting together in this vibrant pink toy. What brought them together? Are they connecting, enjoying themselves? Involuntarily we might think of boat refugees and might ask ourselves if we can ever look at people sitting in inflatable boats without the association of those horrific images. By consciously dealing with the viewer's perspective, it seems that the viewer is partly responsible for what exactly is depicted. Involving him in the position of voyeur or unwanted witness in the work creates astrange kind of complicity with regard to the meaning of the painting. While looking at his work, the painted object itself plays an equally important role as the illusion of the space it depicts. The relatively small size of the panels automatically invites you for a close inspection. As soon as you approach, you're being forced to experience the material and transformational character of the paint. Instead of a better understanding of the subject, you become aware of the object, the painted piece itself. Looking at the paintings of Thijs Jansen requires an effort on the part of the viewer, not least to answer the question of what is actually being portrayed. Jansen seems to fully trust that we as viewers are partly responsible for what we see and with this he is constantly looking for a balance between illusion and projection.