Jeremy Jansen is an artist based in Toronto. Originally from Calgary, he studied photography at Langara College in Vancouver. He has exhibited in New York, Copenhagen, Paris and Toronto. In Toronto, he is represented by Cooper Cole Gallery.
I have a background in photography so that’s how a lot of my work begins. I start with a photograph and then wipe it clean. First, I bleached off the photographs, then I peeled them off, and then I sanded off the plastic. I’m trying to create a type of discipline and patience. With photography, it’s instantly gratifying. You take a photo, develop it and it’s there. This is different.
I don’t think about photography anymore. I just use those tools and materials because they’re familiar with me. There’s a lot of layers to my work but it’s also very surface at the same time. It’s a nice shape on a wall. It’s easy to start with those surface elements and if you know the back story, you might get more out of it.
Lately, I’ve been pulling all this junk off the street and sanding down all the rust to make it a pristine, shiny object that almost looks brand new. It still has blemishes and looks beat up in a certain type of way. If you don’t know my process, you’re going to think that I built the sculpture like that and I made those choices, but the less choices I have to make, the better. That’s the same thing with dragging my work and beating it up. Let it be what it needs to be. I want less of my hand in it as possible.
I navigate through the city–alleys, train tracks, whatever–and get a lot of stuff just by running into it with my feet. Not everything is meant to be a piece. It’s an editing process. That’s the hard part, what you choose to bring into the studio and what you leave in the world.
If I haven’t looked at a piece of work for a few years, I’ll pull it out and dust if off. If I still like it, I keep it. If not, I’ll run it through the ringer and see what happens. I shot a shotgun at one piece. It was the first time I got to shoot a shotgun so that was pretty fun. But I still don’t like the piece. It’s more fun that I got to shoot it. Other panels I dragged up and down a gravel laneway. I put a bunch of cinderblock and anvils on it, then dragged it put and down.
My work is seasonal. Every winter I get back into images and developing images. I have a darkroom and I fuck around in there, but I’ve hit a wall because I can only print 16″ x 20″. I don’t know what it is, but I’m not happy with that scale. I want to see it bigger. I’ve always been drawn to bigger images. It’s better for what I’m after, the textural elements and minute details. In the summer, I want to be outside sanding and welding. I don’t want to be down here in this dungeon making images because it sucks.
I’m not overly precious, I’m not a purist. I go into the darkroom and flash with my phone while photos are in developer to create a solarized effect. There’s a chemical process that happens where negative turns to positive in a split second. I’m always trying to find ways to make things flatter or darker. Trying to see how I can fuck with it more. I like having fun with it. If I work too hard on a particular process, I hate it. I see too much of myself overthinking it. That’s why it’s good to work with older pieces. I try different things, silkscreen on photographs, and if it works, there’s this aha moment where I’m like, ‘Ok, now I can work with that.’
–Jeremy Jansen, as told to Studio Beat
Photos by Erin Leydon
Vist Jeremy Jansen’s website here.