An odd sound now pervades the Kerlin Gallery in Dublin. The almost in-audible high octave frequency rings from the ten Jan Pleitner paintings hung on its walls. The fast paced thud, thud, thud of the painting’s lines form jittering, sweeping, scratches of folding colour that have a distinct harmonic resonance, organic in nature yet distantly mechanistic.
It may come then as no surprise that Pleitner often completes a work in a single session, while listening to techno music. The painting’s metallic droning colours share a tempo with techno, which in turn atavistically follow the lineage of the shamanistic drum circle, both utilising a repetitive, boundary dissolving rhythmic structure. As we move in dark spaces intermittently interrupted by pulsing lights, listening to machine beat wailing, the fireside dancing of our ancient past does not seem so distant. Our collective desire to dissolve ourselves into our external reality is manifested visually in Pleitner’s painting. When standing in front of one with a spirit of generosity, the boundary between the dichotomies of subject/object relaxes ever so slightly. We are gifted with an almost formless expanse of shifting oscillations and deep nothings, which acknowledge our innate connection to the numen.
According to the press release the exhibition’s title Water for the Tribe is a reference to Frank Herbert’s science fiction epic Dune, indicating a techno-foundation of future oriented, fast flowing, cinematic interconnectivity. This space exploring futurism functions as one side of a coin, whose other face remains rooted in the organic and the archaic. He succeeds in evoking the pulsing lights of a Neo-Tokyo while simultaneously drawing on the psychedelic dreamscapes of tribal shamanism. This is played out across ten canvas through rapid scratching, scraping, blurring and removing of paint which has evidently often come straight from the tube. The technique is qualitatively fast. Speed functions here as a key value resulting in a kind of high key naturalism that is both visionary and mechanical. Scale and colour ultimately determine the subtle differences between individual works, but in their affect they all function similarly.
Pleitner’s rich synesthetic cadences draw on our electric extensions and our private chthonic moments. What we see in his paintings is what largely goes unseen; the currency of being. His paintings are an isthmus of force between our known and unknown realities. Bold and striking, Water for the Tribe is not to be missed.