Monday, August 16, 2010

Featured Artist: Gerd Jansen

Gerd Jansen, in front of a countune-picture, 2010.

A brief intro

I was born in Goch in 1956, a little town not far away from Düsseldorf, Germany. As a pupil I was interested in Art, Music and Science. When I was 17 the very first art project I created was an illustration based on the musical works of Frédéric Chopin. I was interested in finding a method for the composition of drawings, paintings and graphics. I followed this pursuit for many years until I found the method in 1997.

I first studied physics in Göttingen University in the east of Germany. After finishing my schooling in 1975, the art calling had become stronger and in 1978 decided to pursue art. I studied sculpture and drawing with Professor Tony Cragg and Professor Erwin Heerich in Düsseldorf, who was a very close friend of Joseph Beuys.

Professor Heerich gave me very strict, but valuable advice that enabled me to express my unique idea of art. Because I was half scientist and half artist, many of my works looked like scientific graphics during that period. In 1986, I lived in Paris for many months, and there I found the most important part of my temperament, and that was to work in serial processes. This working method was successfully created when I discovered the Natural Numbers as my real composition system in 1997.

For a decade or so, I have created many series using this compositional system. In 2009, I founded the "International Social Art Project" called countune, which includes all my ideas and experiences that have accumulated over the past 35 years of art making. I apologize for these titles; they are difficult to translate.

The below, is an image-overview of nine periods within the past 35 years of my art making:

1- Gerd Jansen, Musik im Bild? (1975-1980)

2 - Gerd Jansen, Gedankenmodelle (1981/82)

3 - Gerd Jansen, Ein Experiment zur Ganzheit (1983/84)

4 - Gerd Jansen, Das Weltall als Idee 1985

5 - Gerd Jansen, Die Komplementarität von Feld und Gestalt (1986)

6 - Gerd Jansen, Das Prinzip der Wiederholung (1988 - 1990)

7 - Gerd Jansen, Thema und Variation (1991 - 1996)

8 - Gerd Jansen, Bilder als Musik: Zahlen (1997 - 2008)

9 - Gerd Jansen, countune (since 2009)

In the year 2000, I founded the Institute for Visual Thought (Institut für bildnerisches Denken), an art venue for exhibitions and music performances with my wife, pianist Christine Jansen. In the nine years since its establishment, we have successfully presented 30 exhibitions of wonderful work by artist friends as well as my own work. Pianists from around the world had performed more than 100 concerts at the Institute.

Installation by Gerd Jansen at the Institute for Visual Thought, Ouvertüre op.39,02, paper, string and nails.

In 2009, the Institute moved into its new phase, and is now completely integrated into an interactive online art project called the countune. To learn more about countune, please visit website

About my work:

My work is the result of the core method of composition I developed as a pupil. It was nearly a scientific strategy to develop this idea. The system of the Natural Numbers, including the important Prime Numbers, allows me to make very different works in appearance, but which all show the same basic idea.

I do not specialize in a specific material, but when I decide on a material, I try to transfer the specific material aspect in the work. My thinking and my strategy is always 3-dimensional. Another important aspect of my process is that I always work in series. No work is created as a single stand alone piece. If a collector prefers, he/she is welcome to purchase a single piece of art work.

I would like to give an example here:

In my Rhapsodie op.94,06 (one from an 8 piece series) there are two fields, a free one ( it's a collage with two different papers) and the more systematic field: the vertical lines with one horizontal line. Now I start to count the intervals, first the intervals above and then the intervals below the horizontal line. The start number can be any number, but the number I choose decides the picture structure. If there is a Prime Number in the counting process, the interval gets a painting. So you can say that the Prime Numbers, in combination with the first number, provide the structure of the composition. This has been the case in all my work since 1997.

Gerd Jansen, Rhapsodie op.94,06, collage, drawing, painting, 21x21 cm

Compare the Rhapsodie op.94,06 with the next picture, an Industry-Building I made in 2008. The system is absolutely the same as in the Rhapsody. The intervals here are black and white on large (1m x 6m) metal panels.

Gerd Jansen, Industry building, metal panels, 100x20x12 m, 2008

The next example is a piece from the Lieder op.14 (one from 15 pieces). Here again we have a free collage field and on it I draw squares at regular intervals. The counting process starts in the middle of the piece and continues spirally to the outside.

Gerd Jansen, Lied op.17,04, collage, drawing, painting, 21x21 cm

In the Prélude collé op.19.11, the free collage field is more regular and the square field is a little bigger. So you can see how I change the parameter to get different results.

Gerd Jansen, Prélude collé op.19,11, collage, drawing, painting, 21x21 cm

My experience with the Institute and the international art scene gave me the idea to launch the "International Social Art Project", countune in 2009. I have been creating pictures with artists from many countries on this virtual platform since it was initiated one year ago.

Now countune is a registered Trademark. Here are some of the basic ideas behind countune:

It is a new concept for exhibiting pictorial art. Its significance is rooted in an on-going graphic representation of the sequence of natural numbers.

countune demonstrates a structural form inherent in the sequence of numbers. In this regard, it is possible to speculate that numbers could be constituent criteria of our universe.

countune is in fact based on the sequence of natural numbers, although in the process of creating pictures it makes use of one further precept. All the resulting images become progressively interrelated and so help to form a community of owners who can all be found somewhere along the number line with their own "plot of numbers".

countune's idea is to give the viewers their own range of numbers so that each picture contains the individual's quite specific freedom of choice; as result a barrier is then lifted. On the website’s "join in" page, the viewer can decide the quantity of numbers (the length of the picture) and the colors for his picture.

countune is a combination of two verbs, "to count" and "to tune", and thus signifies the fusion of horizontal and vertical movement and to some extent comparable to the melody of a song. This movement is the result of the constant repetition of a single entity based, in principle, on a number line with a perpendicular wave. The arbitrary distribution of prime numbers gives the resulting area its structure.

At the moment, I'm working hard on a completely new website which functions automatically. Here is an example: Numbers 15630 – 15645, a picture made by Robert Novel.

countune-picture #15630-15645, cooperation from countune and Robert Novel.
Original graphic size 10x16 cm. It is could be an example of a possible wall sized painting.

I have completely stopped working with traditional art making processes since 2009. I now primarily work with my computer on the countune-project. My earlier works are mostly in private collections, but many of my recent works are in the permanent collections of the Moyland Castle Museum, Museum Kurhaus Kleve and Museum Goch in Germany.


Gerd Jansen
Bergstraße 11,
79639 Grenzach-Wyhlen,


Image Credit: All images courtesy of Gerd Jansen.