Janssen and the wood

17 February to 2 June 2024

Horst Janssen's fascination with wood as a motif and as a working material is the main theme of an exhibition for the first time. As a motif, it forms an essential element in his work and extends far beyond the traditional landscape image. Influenced by the North German cultural landscape with its different types of trees, the patterns, structures and shapes of the bark, branches and groups of trees form the creative basis for the majority of his drawings and prints.

Dissecting and exploring
For Janssen, wood is a visual research object and medium on several levels of meaning. His own photographic documentation in nature serves him in his search for line and expression, as does the creative dissection of wooden forms of expression. Sometimes moods of light are captured, sometimes directions of growth are precisely recorded in drawings. His role models are often the old masters, whom Janssen has studied closely in this respect.

People characterise landscapes, landscapes characterise people - in Janssen's work, figure and fauna also merge with one another, even if facial structures in some works can hardly be distinguished from tree bark. For Janssen, however, wood is also a working material: the woodcut is the graphic medium of his early creative years. Wood processed into paper also forms the basis for his drawings and prints. 

Experience and feel
The forest as a place of origin creates the basic atmosphere of the exhibition. Sheets of paper hanging from the ceiling wind into trunk formations. An installation of his wooden printing blocks at a height of 3 metres forms the branches under which Janssen's woodcuts are presented. Wooden elements are complemented by the old bog oak root that was found during the museum's foundation work. The artistic material wood can also be experienced haptically. A wooden mediation table, into which Janssen's woodcuts are incorporated, can be felt and used to reproduce Janssen's motifs. 

The curators
The exhibition was curated by research volunteer Nina Bochmann and research assistant Antje Tietken as co-curator.


We would like to thank our sponsors for their kind support: the Oldenburgische Landschaft and the OLB-Stiftung der Oldenburgischen Landesbank.