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Magnus Plessen

We are pleased to announce our next exhibition of paintings by the German artist Magnus Plessen (*1967 in Hamburg, lives and works in Berlin).

„ ..., there is more to a picture than meets the eye.“ (Neil Young)

A woman with a colourful braid is looking down at a toilet bowl, her face reflected in the water or rather floating on the surface. The black silhouette of a man in profile is next to the reflection. Almost overlapping, it is an anonymous cipher placed in the picture plane. Underneath the toilet bowl, a collage-like frame of gray cardboard has been glued onto the picture plane. In it we see the hint of a woman’s breasts and underneath a rear end mounted on a pair of clunky feet. To the left of this rather bizarre, vertically layered and multiply rotated central array, we see another pair of feet with no perceptible connection to an intact body. Above them, dark green strips with a scattering of coloured patches are bordered at the top by a black rectangle on which another male head is curiously perched. This briefly describes the visual impact of one of the main works (Untitled, 2010) featured in the exhibition, clearly demonstrating that Plessen’s painting has moved on. Formally and technically, that means simultaneously using a diversity of painting methods and elements of collage and arranging them on equal terms in what have become just barely illusionist compositions. The change in content is perhaps even more significant. In these new works, Plessen shows a world in which things are no longer neatly interrelated: very small things loom large, the familiar is estranged and long-standing connections are suddenly fragmented.

Anyone wishing to capture the fleeting iridescence of perception in even the most ordinary of objects is better off to start painting without knowing what the finished picture will look like. The picture has to evolve, to grow organically and be able to change in response to painterly intuition. It is easy to see that many of Plessen’s new works tend to follow the dictates of feelings rather than forethought, and they have been subjected to multiple modifications before the picture was suddenly ‘there’. Naturally, that does not preclude an underlying concept. Plessen’s work has long been regarded as one of the conceptually most stringent oeuvres on the international scene. He has simply adapted and expanded his art to accommodate a modified goal so that basically everything seems to have become possible on the painted skin of his pictures. The excellence and enigma of Magnus Plessen’s new work lies in the compelling nature of his motifs and set pieces – legs, breasts, heads, bottles, etc. – in which mutual relationships, though not objective, obey an ineluctable necessity. [Text: Daniel Marzona]

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