Jan Albers (b. 1971, Wuppertal, Germany) will present at the 2022 Aotearoa Art Fair in November with Fox Jensen & Fox Jensen McCrory. Jan Albers was born into a missionary family, grew up in Namibia and studied at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf, home of luminaries such as Joseph Beuys, Imi Knoebel, Gerhard Richter, and Blinky Palermo. His unique pieces range from the faceted elegance of bronze wall reliefs to the nigh-on chromatic virulence of his painted wedge or chainsaw pieces in acrylic vitrines.
“Bold contrasts permeate Jan Albers’ works. Their specific dialectic of transitions and transformations finds expression in a vibrantly energetic immediateness. They are simultaneously pictures and objects, pictorial sculptures and sculptural painting, exuberant and self-contained, attractive and subversive, light and heavy, disquieting and buoyant.”
– ‘hEavydutybEauty’ by Belinda Grace Gardner.
Jan Albers, grEEdygrEEn, 2021.
Jan Albers in his studio. Photo by Robin Hartschen.
Jan Albers trained as a painter at the Dusseldorf Kunstakademie though from the earliest moment he realised that he was not going to be a painter in the orthodox sense. There would be no fine cedar stretchers nor carefully folded linen corners. Rather than offering pictorial space Albers objects sit out from the wall coming out to meet us. Their faceted forms caught happily between Judd and Picasso. Having dislocated the figure down into flat planes, Albers takes the Cubist paradigm and reverses it. Like metallic origami, these figures are folded crisply, visually expanding and so becoming much more than their material.
As much as Albers wished as a student to eschew convention his work touches lightly on various 20th century moments. One feels echoes of Judd and Chamberlain in their robust materiality and determined “object” status, the visceral impact of Fontana’s puncturing of the picture plane in his “chain-saw” lacerations. But there are also reverberations in form and composition that recall his namesake Anni Albers’ refined geometries or Frank Stella’s shaped canvases. Critically though Jan’s work has an extraordinary sense of contemporaneity. As cognizant as he clearly is of history, he feels determined to extend his own artistic vocabulary so that it embraces a range of connections both to architecture, even the environment complete with its blend of allure and toxicity.
Watch the video below, made as a contribution to Kunstmuseum Bonn’s ongoing series “Behind the Scenes” in 2020.