Don’t think, concentrate

You might be inclined to say that Arjan Janssen – who was born in Eindhoven in 1965 and lives and works in Breda (in the Netherlands) – creates in his drawings and paintings, his own probable universe. That is probably true for all artists, but in his case the focus on his visual world is actually a quality in itself. After all, his work is both abstract and serene and seems to free itself from the so-called reality around it. In each of his works, he creates his individual aestheticism by using a unique structure of stripes and lines, massive or dynamic compositions.

And yet a number of demarcations are firmly embedded in the composition of his visual art. He uses brushstrokes and chalk to create vertical and horizontal lines as well as patterns which repeat themselves at intervals as aligned grids, columns or flexible forms. These are self-imposed boundaries and rules that form an internal framework, constructions that can be free-flowing and can go in any random direction, yet by definition do not contain, by any stretch of the imagination, an identifiable reference to anything whatsoever.

Shortly after graduating from Sint Joost in Breda (1985-1990), Arjan Janssen abandoned the path of figurative art early in his career. In his work, solid imagery is time and again recaptured in an abstract, geometrical or minimalist way as a permanent theme, as a succession of shades of black and white and more recently with shades of colour which are being intuitively and faithfully explored in his visual search for the essentials.

The result of this artistic approach is evident in two-dimensional forms in space which can in no way be said to resemble existing reality. They may well arise from an instant perception or from a direct observation, (as titles such as Stare, Absolutely Everything, Zeigt, Time is Money or Vision may indicate), but they are clearly the result of a constant search for a free artistic language that is pure and expressive. The formal solutions of his paintings and drawings have resulted in a departure from reality, whereby the limitations of format are embraced and used as a means to create a new world, whose building elements seem to reveal a multitude of possibilities.

And yet, despite these intimations of obscurity, his oeuvre is not disconnected from reality, it ‘moves’ metaphorically in exhibitions on ever-changing walls, in books, in publications and in conversations with and between people, such as his close family, and in initiatives such as Rosa Breda (1991-2016) and Abstracte (since 2015). Moreover, Arjan Janssen is very much involved in what is happening today in the international field of the arts and at the same time is engaged in a different professional career, as a social youth worker. He studied philosophy at the University of Amsterdam (1987-1988) and socio-educational work in Eindhoven (2011-2012). He generously writes down his thoughts and shares his observations and discoveries of visual works by other artists from the past and present.

Ultimately, the works of Arjan Janssen function on different visual levels. They function in each specific space, offering a reflection on architecture. They function both as a rectangular surface, with an endless variety of compositions and as a superficial structure, where the damaged, tormented, mat or shiny material leads us close to the artist’s hand. And yet his works are not the representation of a particular rhythm, but the exact rhythm itself. The most important motif can be found in the subtle difference between being and becoming, between the eternal and the temporary.

It gives us, as viewers, visitors or admirers, a chance to concentrate. An appeal to attention for what already exists and what will become.

Els Wuyts
april 2020


Abstracte Abstracten – Galerie Ecker Breda 08/03-21/04 2024

Het Altijd Zijnde – Abstracte Breda
Line Shape Colour – Gallery 7 Athens (GR)
LINK – Hooghouse Groningen
Galerie William Wauters Oosteeklo (BE) (solo)

Galerie William Wauters Oosteeklo (BE)
Kara Kitap – Roseto Degli Abruzzi (IT) (curated by The Court and ABSTRACTE)
Bogert Gallery Knokke-Heist (BE)
Loose – Stadsschouwburg Utrecht (solo)
Bjorn& Gundorph Gallery Aarhus (DK) (solo)
PEK – Visserhallen IJmuiden (curated by ABSTRACTE)
The End Of The Beginning – Nonsofia Sofia (BG)
Apollowlands – Kunstenhuis Harelbeke (BE)


Apollowlands – Ruimte Galerie PS60 Assen
Razende Stilstand – Stedelijk Museum Breda
Noordbrabants Museum Den Bosch
Vanwege Vincent – Stedelijk Museum Breda


Galerie Kim Behm Mannheim (DE) (solo)
Holly Hunt London (GB) (solo)
Van Gogh naar nu – Vincent Van Gogh Huis Zundert


Waar begint donker en hoe eindigt licht – Hilde Vandaele Gallery Watou (BE) (solo)
Raketstart – Stedelijk Museum Breda
Niets Absoluut – Princenhaags Museum Breda (curator)
Concreet Zutphen – Dat Bolwerck Zutphen
Zomerexpo – SBK Breda


Holly Hunt Miami (US) (solo)
Galerie Závodný Mikulov (CZ) (solo)
Constructor – Galerie Noord-Zuid Arendonk (BE) (curated by ABSTRACTE)
Who Loves The Sun – Pictura Dordrecht (curated by ABSTRACTE)
Farbe.Licht.Raum – Kuenstlerhaus Dortmund (DE)
139 x Nothing But Good – PARK Tilburg
Wall Paintings – ACEC Apeldoorn
Vertikal – GKG Bonn (DE)


Momentum – Vincent van Gogh Huis Zundert (solo)
Deemstering – Studio Seine Rotterdam (solo)
Concreet 100 jaar later – Ars Amulae Naturae Leiden
Out Of Balance – De Vishal Haarlem
Inner Nature – Hilde Vandaele Gallery Watou (BE)
Zeichnungen – Galerie Kim Behm Frankfurt (DE)
Markers – Richeldis Fine Art Londen (GB)


Galerie Hein Elferink Staphorst (solo)
(WOOT) Antwerpen (BE) (solo)
Dunkel – Galerie Kim Behm Frankfurt (DE)
Last Call – Kunsthal Boschveld Den Bosch
From Scratch – Pictura Dordrecht (curated by ABSTRACTE)
Ritme en Regelmaat – Galerie Witteveen Amsterdam
Abstract Wall Paintings – ACEC ApeldoorZeichnung – Galerie Gisela Clement Bonn (DE)


Voisinage – Latuvu Bages (FR) (solo)
Galerie Hein Elferink Staphorst (solo)
Amsterdam Drawing Art Fair Galerie Hein Elferink
Veldwerk – Drawing Centre Diepenheim
Thoughts Around The Black Square – Vasarely Museum Boedapest (HU)
Rotterdam Contemporary Art Fair Galerie Hein Elferink
25 – Galerie Phoebus Rotterdam
Schitterend Isolement – Drawing Centre Diepenheim
Orthogonal Contemporary Space Varna (BG)
Hollandse Klaarte – Loods12 Wetteren (BE)


Galerie Hein Elferink Staphorst (solo)
Dutch Cube – Museum Bozsó Kecskemét (HU)
Imaging Agent – PARK Tilburg
Formeel 2014 – Museum Waterland Purmerend
Orthogonal 14 – The Red House Sofia (BG)
Razzle Dazzle – Electron Breda (curator)

etc. etc. etc.