GORSSEL – The ‘Earthlings’ exhibition can be seen in the Garden Room of Museum MORE in Gorssel from 19 June to 30 October with 40 highlights from Anya Janssen’s (1962) oeuvre. It is the first comprehensive overview of her work from the early 1990s to today.
By Henri Bruntink
Annya Janssen looks at the man with astonishment. Her art moves between reality and fantasy. “For me, painting is an ultimate attempt to get closer to people,” she says.
Anya Janssen developed her own realistic style from pasty, expressionist paintings in a dark palette. At first he painted himself, later just the other. She is inspired by fifteenth-century Flemish primitives and Lowbrow Art, an art movement that originated in the 1960s around Los Angeles, with roots in underground comics, punk music and graffiti. She combines traditional fine-painting technique with strong compositions with great accuracy. But through his often alienating use of color and supernatural painting effects, the artist creates an ambiguous result. Janssen thus creates a poetic, mysterious universe.
Are we earthlings rational or animal beings? Janssen’s oeuvre questions thinking in contrasts: in nature versus culture, in good and evil, in beautiful or ugly. “But it embraces each other, one cannot exist without the other,” she says. Hair farmers appear in different guises at the same time. Meeting her models is an important artistic motivation. “I am a collector of souls, sometimes almost a stalker. I tell stories of people crossing my path. I get a little under the skin of them and feel with them for a while ”.
Janssen works a lot in series, with enigmatic titles such as skyboere and Shapeshifters† The central characters in her portraits are often young adults due to Janssen’s fascination with people at a crossroads in their lives. She is fascinated by the transition process from childhood to adulthood and by fluid identities. This transformation of her muses can take psychedelic or science fiction-like forms in her work, through the pictorial hint of movement with a sometimes dizzying physical influence on the viewer’s experience.
Janssen’s own youth also shines through in her oeuvre. Growing up on Mookerheide, where she loved to roam the woods and explore nature as a child, she has always kept collecting special plants, dead animals and skulls. And she stores preparations in strong water. Janssen’s studio has grown into a Wunderkammer of transience and melancholy. in the series monstrenes parlament we see people locked inside the canvas frame, like organisms trapped in a glass jar. Vulnerability, compassion and fear unite in her art. “Sometimes I say: I paint beauty with the charm of a razor”.
with work Ecce Homo Janssen returns – for a moment – to the self-portrait. Here she confronts her own mortality, inspired by the work of the 17th century painter Francisco de Zurburán. But it is not only a self-portrait in the traditional sense, it also appears as a metaphor. As a symbol of transience.
Guest curator Fleur Junier and Anya Janssen have made a selection of newer and older works for the exhibition. Loans come from the artist’s collection and private collections in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy. The exhibition is accompanied by a short film about Janssen by video makers Jaan Stevens and Angela Otten.
For more information on opening hours and tickets, see the website.