Triptychon – Asymptote: Exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

Text by: Michael Sieben (art critic & author)

The works of Ulfert Janssen are in a good way exceptional and peculiar. Contemplating his Art, reading about the history of Art and criticising (which has the meaning of „differentiated thinking“) I realised that the Artist is working towards a greater context. Through steel and wood, water and fire, technical equipment and brushes, colors and the factor of time. Works of Art which travel through such chaos bevor they find their final form to present a gift of exciting beauty to our eyes.

In the presence of this Triptych I am reminded of words by a German Philosopher: Architecture is frozen music. 

– Sometimes a look at this Triptych can cause unrest and nervousness.

– „Thinking comes from spirited seeing“  (Hugo Oswald)

– As long as we do not feel comfortable facing Art, we are alive.

– The Rust does not seem to have come from a natural process. It appears to be the journey of a game which uses time as its players: Past, Present, Future.
About the old Babylonians it is said they would gesture backwards
when asked about the future.

Water possesses huge powers. Sometimes this is shown through its special effect. The beauty of the lines created by waves. The powers of movement. And Rust.

– How does time get into structure and structure into time? How does allegory begin and why does it continue?“ (Joel Fineman)

– The consistence and the brownish earthy colours carry a huge responsibility, which reminds me of a quote from the writer Virginia Woolf: Thankfully “from time to time the finger of death holds on to the turbulences of life to ensure that it will not rip us apart.”

Securing evidence. Serious words. And yet they are essential for so many tasks in life.
To lean on Models within the history of art and to gain knowledge about said history, is a wonderful way for Artists like Ulfert Janssen to conquer a unique style.

The painter Paul Cèzanne (1839 – 1906) supposedly once said to the writer Emil Zola (1840 – 1902): “I wanted to copy nature. But I could not manage.  I realized that one cannot copy the sun. Therefor I settled on representation.
Maybe Ulfert Janssen had a similar experience. He took this modern and cold type of Steel and exposed it to natural elements. The developing Rust helps to represent the power of Water.

Asymptote (æs.ɪm.təʊt): where two sets of related elements approach but never intersect.

Derived from the Greek word “asumptōtos” which means “not falling together”. – asymptote represents a concept that “related elements come close together but never actually becoming one, and it heads separately towards infinity”.


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2023 Mai – Evolve Conceptual Art Exhibition Vol.1 – Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum