Selected works by Jansson Stegner

Jansson Stegner


Oil on linen

99 x 86.4 cm

Jansson Stegner’s canvases contrive a humorous blend of romanticised beauty and pop culture dumbness. In paintings such as Sarabande and Grey Sky, Stegner adopts the pastoral hues and elegant compositions of historical painting to portray images of contemporary longing. Borrowing from the vernacular of TV heroicism, Stegner’s paintings of cops transpose the glamorised bravado, violence, and machoism of programmes such as COPS into a quirky fetishism, as his nubile girl-as-boy police officers languish in idyllic settings, rendered like cherubic pin-ups for sensual indulgence. Through his use of cartoon-ish exaggeration, Stegner’s figures become both surreal and idealised: all gangly limbs and gesticular expressions their vulnerability is countered by their moral ambivalence. Throughout Stegner’s paintings is a sense of punk-ish aggression, where the authority is questioned, subverted, and manipulated both through his subject matter and ‘slack’ style of painting, which contrive a taboo intimacy from generic emblems of power.

Jansson Stegner
Grey Sky


Oil on canvas

61 x 53.3 cm
Jansson Stegner
Great Plains


Oil on linen

122 x 86.4 cm
Jansson Stegner
Starling Heights


Oil on linen

81.3 x 63.5 cm


by Sarah Valdez

Sex, violence and strange idylls are the subjects of Jansson Stegner's weirdly compelling solo debut, "Dig Me No Grave." The show is titled after his 2004 painting of a motorcycle crash on rolling hills through which bodies fly through the air. As in many of his works, Stegner seems to enjoy depicting attenuated limbs flailing about, and often uses them as compositional devices. Drawing inspiration from such culturally diverse sources as Romantic and Neo-Classical history painting and the television shows "CHiPs" and "COPS," Stegner portrays senseless conflicts, sickening orgies and bizarre portraits of lone individuals, either posing or in the midst of nervous breakdowns--for reasons that can't always be deduced from what's seen.

Police in uniform figure prominently in Stegner's works, appearing in seven of the 16 paintings in the show. One officer seems to be either anguished or blissed out in Surrender (2004), throwing his (or her--it's hard to say, thanks to a helmet) head back as if crying or moaning. A crowd of cops (including one with an amputated leg and crutch) lounges on boulders in Weathering Rock. For The Scandinavian (2005), a police-woman with wispy blond hair and impossibly long, warped legs lies curled up on grass, dreamily pondering a sprig of leaves as if lost in a romantic daydream.

Stegner's pseudohistorical images rely heavily on kitsch. He paints miserably: proportion often gets absurdly skewed and features like fingers, lips and eyes frequently get lost in big, amateurish brushstrokes. One has no empathy for his characters, who convey no sense of either good or evil. Maudlin landscapes play background to frequently perverse, ridiculous scenes. For Rim of the Crater (2004), people in plainclothes fight two cops, one of whom stands poised to smash two other figures with a big rock. Other individuals lie strewn on the ground, presumably dead.