Peter Plagens

Peter Plagens was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1941. He received his B.F.A. from the University of Southern California and his M.F.A. from Syracuse University. Plagens is known for his painting as well as his writing on art. In June 1999 the artist’s first novel, “Time for Robo,” was published by Black Heron Press. He resides in New York City.

In his paintings related to the novel, Plagens continues an idiomatic abstraction containing formal rigor, painterly inventiveness, and a quirky personal expression, on which his characteristic clumsy/pretty configurations comport themselves. Plagens’s method of including a single, hard-edge “badge” of bright color in each picture continues, intensified.

Plagens titles his paintings after the fact of their making. The titles usually indicate the things he ruminates about while at work in the studio. In these works, the titles relate to chapters in his book. Plagens has said of his work, “I’m a more or less unmetaphysical artist, so this is a little peculiar to me to say. The pictures are painting me now almost as much as I’m painting them.”

In his newest paintings on paper, Plagens takes an adventurous, yet logical step. He now divides the painting into two halves: one half is either white, gray or black, a tabula rasa for Plagens’ personal “jottings,” or gestures. He paints and draws fluidly, creating a free-form shape that loops around tender, vulnerable multi-colored drawing lines, all surrounded by a generous border of the background color.

The other half of the painting is a solid color, usually bright and snappy; a high-pitch blue, a sprightly red, a tangerine orange. On this half, Plagens makes a window-like shape of another brilliant color, transforming his geometric hard-edge badge of triangular, kite-like shape into an open rectangle. The opening, like a window, brings air into these freshly and intelligently composed works.