Dutch artist Esther Janssen examines themes of extreme cultivation, alienation and the conflicting psychology of our most profound spatial needs.Read More
Janssen takes our familiar Western environments and inverts them, depicting scenes of eerie unfamiliarity. Despite this, the works retain a certain radiance, they manage to attract and enchant. Janssen works with artificial leather: painting individual pieces then cutting them out. She then sews them into elaborate scenes of lush, yet strictly ordered, neigbourhoods and gardens. The non-breathable imitation leather, the refined use of clair-obscur and composition, and the absence of people, suffuse her work with a suffocating, intoxicating beauty.
Esther’s approach to painting can be traced back to her educational years at the Design Academy Eindhoven, where she was given the freedom to work outside the official curriculum. She graduated cum laude for autonomous art. The academy had offered a broad range of techniques and media with an emphasis on research and concept. This turned out to be pivotal in developing her own distinctive style and approach as an artist. Her works are informed by extensive research, brought to life by meticulous design, and given heart by Janssen's ambition to challenge technical boundaries and progress as an artist.
Esther regards her works first and foremost as contemplative spaces. In her recent ongoing series ‘The Silence’, she seeks to unite our fundamental need for shelter and perspective in one image. These spatial opposites perfectly mirror our conflicting psychological desires: on one hand we long for security, harmony, control and borders, yet we also desire adventure, possibilities, freedom, discovery, hope, expansion. These phenomena are seemingly incompatible, yet we're not comepletely sated until we have them both. Esther’s works always contain - however small or hidden - a passage that suggests infinite space and possibility, a reference to traditional Chinese art in which large areas are left empty in order to experience the cosmos, the mystery.
Text courtesy Unit London.