Almine Rech Shanghai is pleased to present In the Land of Silhouettes, a solo exhibition by Marcus Jansen and also his third exhibition with the gallery, on view from March 17 through April 29, 2023. The first solo exhibition of Jansen’s work in China, In the Land of Silhouettes showcases a new series of works in the artist’s unique hybrid style, which fuses aspects of gestural abstraction and graffiti writing into dynamic and surreal narratives.
Marcus Antonius Jansen—named after the Roman general Marcus Antonius—was born in 1968 in New York City, the son of a German father and a Jamaican mother. Jansen grew up both in the Bronx and in Germany, which he first visited as a one-year-old. His businessman father—“a walking dictionary”—spoke incessantly about politics and history while his mother studied nursing. Jansen spent most of the 1970s in Queens, then moved to Monchengladbach, Germany (his father’s home town) where, as the only child of color in town, he was beaten and bullied. When Jansen’s father realized that these events were race-related, he sent his son back to New York to connect with his family during summers. There, Jansen’s exposure to graffiti writing activated his artistic sensibility and offered him an example of art as a tool for communication.
The richness and complexity of Jansen’s formative years have informed the language of his mature style. His experiences growing up as a multi ethnic American in both the United States and Europe, followed by extensive travel and military service, have provided Jansen with a broad and sometimes paradoxical reservoir of observations and experiences. Jansen’s artistic influences, gleaned from Abstract Expressionism, from German Expressionism—both pre- and postwar—and from graffiti artists in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels, overlap and complement each other in their commitment to impulsive and spontaneous expression. Committed to the idea that art can reflect and transmit direct reactions to oppressive political situations, he paints to create images that open up civilized and relevant discourses.
— John Seed, art writer and curator