When you hear Marcus Jansen speak, you’re immediately struck by his calm, almost peaceful and genuinely friendly tone. The more you listen to him, the more you sense a man who wears words like warmth, grace and humility quite comfortably. Nowhere in his language, or attitude, or demeanor would you detect an artist of considerable celebrity already, one who — come December — is about to truly stand at center stage of the international art world.
At 47 years old, after almost 20 years as a professional artist, with paintings that currently sell for up to $100,000, Marcus Jansen has arrived. “What’s happening now is really the height of my career,” he quietly states.
The “now” Jansen speaks of is something of a perfect artistic storm. This December, SKIRA Editione of Milan — the most renowned publisher of fine art books in the world — will be releasing for worldwide distribution “Marcus Jansen Decade,” a collection of his inspired art over the past 10 years. At the same time, a documentary by Naples director John Scoular will premiere with “Marcus Jansen: Examine and Report.” Finally and perhaps most importantly, Jansen will begin a two-year journey of solo exhibitions of his work in Beijing (April of 2016), followed by Rome and New York City (dates to be determined).
“You labor all these years to get your work seen and discussed, and suddenly you’re on a huge, huge platform,” he says. “These Jansen solo shows are my first, and for any painter that’s a highlight — most don’t get solo shows in museums until they’re dead. Yes, I’m pretty excited about this.”
Jansen’s artistic career began at the age of six, when his painting of a lion was selected from a student competition to appear in an exhibit at the Lever House in Manhattan. Something of a world traveler with a German father and West Indies mother, Jansen returned to New York in his teens and was immediately drawn to the graffiti art movement of the 80s when he met celebrated graffiti artist WEST ONE. He served in the first Gulf War in the Airborne Units in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, before it was back to Europe — then back to the U.S. permanently in 1999 where, in New York City, he sold his art on the streets.
The move to Fort Myers came in 2003, after his first son was born, to be closer to his parents who were living here. “We loved the area, we loved the beaches and we were attracted to it all immediately,” he recalls. He works out of Unit A Studio in downtown Fort Myers, and is a regular stop on the monthly Art Walk event.
According to Jansen, things really began “happening” for him in 2007, when his work appeared at the Art Basel Festival in Miami, one of the world’s top modern and contemporary art shows where approximately 300 artists and galleries from around the world exhibit. “That’s when I was launched if you will on the international scene,” he says, “when I started doing my very large works” that often exceed 10 feet in height or width.
But what really sets Marcus Jansen apart is not the size of his art, but the style. Some have called it urban expressionism, others neo-expressionism, but if you ask Jansen, he tries “to shy away from labeling my work. Labels are interpreted differently by different people. I just like the fact that people are insecure in where to place me. That must mean I’m doing something interesting; it’s good not to fit.”
And although you may not be able to typecast Jansen’s art, he’s clearly got things to say with it. “My message, if there is one, is more commentary on the global climate we’re in — politically, socially, economically — and the impact is has on our global environment. There’s no dictating in my paintings. I like to challenge people on what they believe or might not believe. That’s what being an artist is all about, communicating with the audience.” View his website here.
Story by John Sprecher | Photography by Milissa Sprecher