Printer Friendly

Magnus von Plessen: Mai 36 Galerie.

The name Magnus von Plessen often comes up in discussions of new painting from Berlin--but how many people have actually seen his paintings? They've yet to he exhibited in Berlin itself. In 2001 they were shown at the Neues Kunstmuseum Luzern; then, last winter/spring, there was a small exhibition at K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen near Dusseldorf. Now his most recent paintings have been shown in Zurich--the first-ever gallery exhibition for this painter, which might be explained by the fact that his production is limited to just a few paintings a year.

Von Plessen's earlier works were predominantly portraits derived from photographs; the same was true here, although two of the seven works on view were not portraits. The copying of mechanically produced originals has been a matter of course at least since Pop art, but von Plessen's paintings raise new questions about the relationship between the photograph and its handpainted copy. In an interview published in the Dusseldorf catalogue, von Plessen recalls a moment in Joyce: As Stephen Dedalus looks out across the sea, his image of it is distorted by the memory of his mother dying, the green of the ocean becoming the color of her sputum. Through the green of the water, his mother returns his gaze. Thus von Plessen says that "what we see looks back at us," quoting the art historian Georges Didi-Huberman but thereby aligning himself with feminist theorist of visuality Kaja Silverman, who, in her most recent book, World Spectators (2003), likewise speaks of the gaze of the image meeting that of the observer. She, too, insists that there is mutuality between the image and its observer, a mutuality that, if taken even further by way of certain precepts of phenomenology, makes us observers the true creators of reality: "Finally, it is we alone who determine whether the world will appear, and so Be, or languish in the darkness of non-Being. We bring things into the light by looking, in the strongest and most important sense of that word." Von Plessen gives us a hint of the worlds that might be created if the relationship between the gaze of the observer and the gaze of what is seen were a mutual one--if the photograph ceased to be an object and became a kind of subject itself, one that could reflect images back to us.

Every observer who meets the gaze of what is seen is confronted anew with the question of space; for in this mutual gaze, perspective, with its hierarchically directed projection, loses its grip. How then should space be configured, and with it time and motion? Even in the portraits, the space von Plessen creates tends to move. It is no longer perspectival, but then what kind of space is it? These questions become even more urgent for von Plessen in his most recent paintings, Ohne Titel (Treppe) (Untitled [Stair]) and Ohne Titel (Dachboden) (Untitled [Attic]), both 2003, which are no longer portraiture--although the cluttered room into which the latter grants a peek does contain a human figure--but depictions of interiors. Photography rarely touches on such questions. But for us, the observers, these are new questions as well, as different as the space yon Plessen allows us to glimpse. It shows us the distortions our perception can undergo, so long as we accept the gaze of the painting.

Translated from German by Sara Ogger.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Artforum International Magazine, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Zurich
Author:Smolik, Noemi
Publication:Artforum International
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Previous Article:Roman Signer: Hauser & Wirth.
Next Article:Teresa Margolles: Galerie Peter Kilchmann.

Related Articles
Christoph Rutimann.
Ulrich Gorlich.
Emergence of Related Nontoxigenic Corynebacterium Biotype mitis Strains in Western Europe.
Laying it on thick: Meghan Dailey on the art of Dana Schutz.
Pia Fries: Galerie Mai 36.
The Tuymans effect.
Magnus von Plessen: Art Institute of Chicago.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters