Cellar Meditations with Jan S. Hansen

Featured in: Issue Nº 12

Category: Interview


Danish artist Jan S. Hansen works with various media through which he channels an iconographic stream of consciousness and dense moments of pure abstraction.

Jan S. Hansen (1980) graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of fine art in 2010, he has since received several awards and displayed his work in both Denmark and abroad.

By Erik Duckert
Photos by Martin Kurt Haglund

All work courtesy of the artist. For more information and individual titles please check out Hansen’s website here.

Hansen greets us in his studio on Copenhagen’s west side. The big cellar studio was recently flooded and despite a massive clean up a vague moldy scent lingers.


HANSEN: “If something like subjective objectivity exists I think that’s an apt term for my approach; an anthropological approach but at the same time a personalized adaptation.”

H: “My work is pretty personal in the sense that it’s made by me, there is something of me in them, however I am very attuned to making my output open to interpretation so it wont just become an exhibition of stuff from my diary, so to speak.

It is important to me that I provide the pieces with a distance to myself to ensure that they are relevant to others as well.”

H: “My stuff is about these dualities amongst things, kind of a yin yang. That’s how I approach my pictures as well: I am trying to create a bigger picture where things have their own place but at the same time interact with the surrounding elements.”

Jan S. Hansen’s latest show Monsoon was displayed in a two level exhibition space where the first level showed abstract pictures with fleeting imagery of palm leaves, and the second level contained large clip art carpets hung on the wall.

H: “The downstairs works move in a borderland between abstraction and the concrete. Some of them are completely dissolved others have imprints of palm leaves. Thus the abstract work on the lower level appear void whereas the one upstairs have been created by photographing the abstract ones and adding clipart.

H: “So in a way you can see the abstract ones as an empty sort of meditative situation; in meditation you sometimes reach an ’empty state’ where the mind is completely tranquil and you are able to see your thoughts float by. Observe them.”

So the downstairs pieces can be read as that empty state of mind and upstairs you have this clipart imagery floating around like cropped thoughts in various constellations.”

H: “The topics of a lot of these things are pretty fundamental and existential but in guise of a general everydayness, during a day you think about a lot of things, some more profound than others.”


– these images really just contain an average day.”