Barbara Gladstone

Magnus Plessen

01 Dec 2007 - 12 Jan 2008


Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Magnus Plessen. In these new paintings, Plessen continues to explore the absence that haunts structures of vision. Drawing upon the relationship between the primacy of paint and the object rendered, Plessen leaves compositions un-integrated, and thus open to be seen merely as the spaces of life. In this new body of work, the scraped brushstrokes both fill the surface of the canvas, as well as designate boundaries of emptiness. Teetering on the edge of visual unification, Plessen’s interplay of positive and negative spaces revolves around the physicality of paint upon a canvas, marking both what remains present and that which has been removed.

In a recent interview, Plessen remarked, “I have asked myself where the image is, is it in front of me or is it within me? When I’m working, I imagine building up the image from behind, stepping into the inside of the picture, turning around and painting the brushstroke from the underside...I was both inside and outside.” The new work included in this show seems to expand upon this notion of interior and exterior locations of the image, specifically in the painting In and Out of My Shirt, 2006. Here, hatched outlines in multiple colors and thicknesses seem to unpeel and reveal the titular object; however, the figure of the painter does not seem to emerge from beneath the folds. Rather, the object rendered seems to swallow the composition, and in turn itself, betraying the skids of a vortex along the surface. In other work, Plessen turns to a quasi-tactile reflection of his world. Instead of removing the figure, in Untitled, 2006, he presents a contemporary Madonna and child, shimmering shadow-like between the vibrations of scraped brushstrokes. Here the sensuous surface seems to touch reality, although the true identities of the figures never stay in focus. In this way, the painter isolates himself, drawing from life only to sacrifice his subjects to a highly-subjective notion of objectivity. However, within these unresolved compositions, there is space, both positive and negative, in which vision guards the presence of life.

Magnus Plessen was born in 1967 in Hamburg, Germany. His paintings have been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including the Neues Kunstmuseum in Luzern, K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf, P.S. 1 in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Art Institute of Chicago. His work was also included in the fiftieth Venice Biennale in 2003. This exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with a text by Francesco Bonami.

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