Max Jansons was born in New York City however, lives and works in Los Angeles, California. He received an MFA from Columbia University, New York and his BFA from University of California at Los Angeles. He has had twelve solo shows and has exhibited in galleries in the US and abroad. He has been reviewed in The LA Times, The New York Times, Artforum, and was named among other important LA based painters in Christopher Knights list of "45 Painters Under 45" in the Los Angeles Times. Max Jansons work focuses on paintings' ability to engage the viewer in an intimate way and create an unfolding and thoughtful visual experience. He works from various subject matter within the same body of paintings, using both representational and abstract images. Jansons has expanded on an ongoing investigation in the tradition of still-life painting while imbuing his paintings with art historical references. His works can include a vase of flowers, a portrait of childhood hero, sailboats, or abstract shapes and visual objects that play a role in his daily life. The history of painting is folded into the subject of his work as he is a passionate student of art history. Jansons explores that relationship in multiple ways, but especially with the use of his painterly gestures and diverse brush work, timeless materials such as linen primed with lead, paints ground in aged oil and pigments whose sources are rare to find. The process of reinvigorating historical tropes by utilizing a very deft facture of expressionist painting and the celebration of complex color combinations is a central theme to Jansons work.
The paintings of Max Jansons are deceptively ornamental, whether overtly in the luxuriant bouquet works or more obliquely in the abstract color studies and Pop-style compositions. Folk art, art nouveau, ornamental cubism, and candy-colored, retro design are some of the references Jansons work recombines, creating thematic groups of paintings that elaborate upon one another. The abstract works have certain repeating motifs like the triangle, which is used either as a central image or in multiples within a canvas. The abstracts that depart from the triangle imagery have a sort of technicolor Cubism - dynamic geometric arrangements of color and pattern. There is variation in painting approach both between works and within single compositions. Impasto strokes are used within the boundaries of flat design, as in textured strokes inside a sharply delineated vine leaf, a segment of striped triangle, or the vase in a still life. Selected works at first appear to have the smooth surface of slick Pop, but instead have visible strokes that follow the forms, amplifying an element or thickening of an individual detail. These works also play with transparency and color layering, with subtle tonal changes. Joseph Albers-style formalist color experiments applied to habitual subject matter is a humorous proposition that suggests Jansons' work may have an element of satire. This mode of the Pop- absurd can be located in the abstract and floral works which may have a valence of ironic pastiche, as if to say, "You want pretty? You want décor?" Warhol was a master of this provocation, screen printing flowers to anticipate the demand for pleasing imagery or taking the banal, likable genre of pastoral landscape and turning it into cow wallpaper, a wry send-up of the middle- brow taste for bucolic, rustic nostalgia. To give Jansons credit for having a contemporary, conceptual perspective would be to see the possibility of critique within the beautiful flowers, and approachable abstracts. Jansons paints with great attention to surface, form, and color, embedding this observant exploration of his medium within frolicsome pictures of harmony and bounty. These agreeable pictures may harbor a charismatic wit that asks the viewer to consider if they have to like what they see. -Rachel Baum
Tiger in a Tropical StormPorto Cervo, Sardinia 1 Jul - 2 Sep 2021In the painting 'Tiger in a Tropical Storm', the viewer has happened upon a scene, perhaps hiding from the growling shiny-toothed tiger or sheltering beneath the palm trees from the blustering monsoon. The self-taught artist, Henri Rousseau, created this work without ever leaving Paris. With the taxidermized animals and exotic...