los-angeles

Peter Plagens

USC Fisher Museum of Art

The earliest of this exhibition’s thirty years of paintings and collages share the motif of a circle within an irregular field filling most of the canvas or paper support. Often alone, seldom sharing space with other circles or curvilinear elements, and sometimes cohabiting with rectilinear and triangular shapes, each hand-painted but compass-accurate circle is in some way incomplete. When painted as disks of solid color, they lack a wedge like a pie with a piece removed, or have a flat portion that Peter Plagens compares to a “round of gouda sliced on one side.” Elsewhere, they are rings broken by thin cracks and broad gaps. Visually these have the effect of a burst balloon or breached hull, but Plagens’s compositions neither represent nor intentionally reference such things. Rather, they suggest a loss of control over space. With the circle unable to fully contain or withhold, what is

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