Peter Plagens and Jerry Saltz (Photo: Art Forum)

I’m not that worried about people in general liking my painting (de gustibus, what makes horse races, etc.) because I’m more or less used to their not, generally speaking. My abstract paintings are, I think, too craggy or disjointed or garish (although I have gone through a few piss-elegant phases) to be generally likeable. Funny things are that if there’s any commonality to my work from the beginning to now, it’s that I simply want to paint paintings that are good-looking (albeit on my terms), and you’d think that somebody who’s also been an art critic all this time would have a better idea of what might constitute “good-looking” to people other than himself.

Not that I want to settle, mind you, for my painting being merely good looking. Almost inevitably, it’s supposed to express something…

Painting and art history, painting vs. video and installation art, “painting—see ‘death of,'” and all that stuff. I started out as a painter and, since I possess genetically half of a plodding Teutonic temperament, I’ve stayed one. Connections to perhaps the deepest, richest mode of Western art since the Fall of Rome have sustained satisfaction, yes, but sheer force of habit has played a large part, too. Not to mention circumstance: if I’d been born in 1841 instead of 1941, I’d probably have been a printer’s apprentice; 1981 instead of ’41 and I’d likely be doing digitally interactive whatever. Nevertheless, I really do think that there’s something there in painting, especially abstract painting, that one just doesn’t get elsewhere.

–From Peter Plagens’ artist statement

Peter Plagens‘ artist statement (which you can read in its entirety here) is more word heavy than most—which one would expect from a prolific writer who is also an artist like Plagens—but I particularly responded to this last paragraph. His reasoning fits me as well: a genetic proclivity to tenacity; the circumstances of being born, in America, in the second half of the 20th century; and the undeniable sense that something extraordinary can take place when encountering nonobjective painting that doesn’t happen, for me, in any other medium.

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