Magnus Plessen makes paintings that shift fluidly between abstraction and representation. Using a diverse range of painterly methods and dynamic compositions, his works are studies on perception, structure, material and transience.
The characteristics of Plessen’s paintings lie in their systematic development of an image, constructed by adding and removing sections of paint to reveal passages of compact form and negative space. The process of application and subtraction is evident through resolute brushstrokes and scrapes, and in doing so, the construction of the work emerges in rigorous and dynamic syncopation. Plessen’s approach to painting is largely phenomenological, since he aims to capture momentary emotion rather than reality. Figures slip in and out of focus, either static or caught in a blurred rush of movement. Backgrounds are removed to leave ethereal traces like retinal after-images.
In recent works, Plessen has used the idea of rotation and revolution as a means of re-ordering structure and dimensionality within the painting. Locating a central axis point around which constituent motifs and elements are arranged, the composition establishes a sense of movement and energy. Alongside this, gestural marks commingle with more structured shapes, and a palette punctuated with exuberant hues of acid yellows and hot pinks. These elements combined create a visual labyrinth that distinguishes Plessen’s singular practice.
Magnus Plessen was born in 1967 in Hamburg, Germany and lives and works in Berlin. Solo exhibitions include The Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Massachusetts (2014); Art Institute of Chicago (2005); Espace 315, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2004); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21, Düsseldorf, Germany (2002); and MoMA PS1, New York (2002). He has participated in many group exhibitions internationally including Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2007); Sammlung Goetz, Munich (2006); and 50th Venice Biennale (2003).