Jochen Plogsties: Shanzhai

17 September – 29 October, 2016

September 17, 11 – 8 pm
September 18, 11 – 5 pm withing the gallery tour

Pictures exist solely as representations of something else; commonly they are either a rendition of sensually-perceptible reality or of imaginary worlds – including abstraction. It is these two poles – the imitation of reality and the visualisation of mental concepts – that provide the basic premises for the production of works of art.
Within this branched system Jochen Plogsties has developed a distinct method, which, like an Ariadne thread, guides him through the labyrinth of images. Ever since 2010 Plogsties has rigorously explored the framework of possibilities for appropriating images through painting: he duplicates images – not the originals, but rather their photographic reproductions. These could for instance be paintings of the old masters printed in catalogues. Or pictures from popular culture, or photographs of his contemporaries, which he finds in digital form on the internet and prints out as models to reproduce. However, Plogsties is not interested in creating a perfect copy. His works are reiterations of images made entirely in his signature style, so that glaring differences between the model and the reproduction are inevitable.
As part of this process of copying he not only appropriates the original, but also analyses the internal laws of composition that have led to the creation of the original image. And it is these underlying formal rules of painting that have become Plogsties’ main focus in his most recent works. Two disparate modes of depiction clash on his canvases since. On the one hand the principle of the imitation of reality – the figuration – and on the other the principle of composition: abstract, geometrical sets of rules that support the artist in finding the right places where and how to position shapes on the canvas. To visualise these rules, Plogsties makes use of an arabic ornament based on the geometric shape of the pentagon. This makes two distinct aspects of painting perceptible on his canvases, independent of one another, even as they more or less pervade each other. Sometimes the copied original is dominant, sometimes the ornament. Meaning appears at focal points in his works: key aspects of the figurative composition overlap with the geometric nodes. And it is at these focal points that, unbiased by the artist, a kind of structural formula, a type of alchemical “secret” knowledge of the creation of pictures is revealed. Despite his artistic liberty to produce images without limitations Plogsties willingly subjects himself to the zealous exploration of the timeless internal laws of painting and to present the record of this research through new images.
– Marcus Andrew Hurttig