Slowly and Quietly – Exhibition by Dieter Engler
31 January - 13 Marchfree
EXHIBITION 31 January – 13 March 2020
Dieter Engler Biography
BORN: 1958 Berlin
- 1976-78 Secondary Education Art Diploma, Torrens CAE.
Painting under Ron Bell and Geoffrey Harris.
Printmaking under Peter Schultz and Barbara Hanrahan.
- 1979 Diploma of Teaching
1983 Commendation Mid-North Art Awards.
1988 Commendation, Clare Valley Easter Exhibition.
1993 Winner, Kernewek Lowender Art Prize.
EXHIBITING HISTORY: 18 Solo Exhibitions plus numerous Group Exhibitions in Australia,New Zealand, UK, Malaysia, and Japan
The Benedictine Community of New Norcia, WA
Federal Law Courts, Adelaide.
Petronas collection, Kuala Lumpur
SABHS collection, Adelaide
Pro Hart Collection, Broken Hill
“The Refining Fire”, Dawn Mendham, Albatross Books, 1987
“Printmaking in the Sun”, Dan Welden and Pauline Muir, Watson- Guptill Publications, 2001
“Open Borders, Fleurieu Peninsula Biennale, 2004, Heritage Exhibition”, John Neylon, Fleurieu Peninsula Biennale Inc. 2004
Dieter Engler’s lexicon of forms is derived from his close observation of the interaction of the built environment with the landscape. When reconfigured, the elements of rooftops, churches, houses, electricity poles, trees and winding roads create the visual uniqueness of country sites. Engler rearranges his motifs to create numerous variations upon themes ranging from the South Australian coast to the Western Australian outback and beyond. Like Italian artist and printmaker Giorgio Morandi, Engler uses his simplified yet sophisticated alphabet of shapes, lines and graphic qualities to explore philosophic ideas and memories of place. He works simultaneously on drawings, paintings and prints in a search for a deeper understanding of the emotional and psychological content inherent in the images. Engler’s enigmatic works are tangible reflections of time and space.
Engler’s depictions of country towns, farms, old roads, jetties and glimpses of sea evoke quiet, contemplative places. The viewer is invited to dwell for a while and explore these usually empty sites; to become the figure in the landscape. At times a road or path welcomes the reader of these images to enter, wander around the built structures, imagine, or be the author of their own memories associated with place. Engler views the landscape as a means to explore ideas and innovate within the mediums of drawing, painting and printmaking; traditions in which he believes ‘not all has been said.’
In 1959 Engler came as a small child with his parents from Berlin to settle in the Adelaide Hills. He grew up feeling outside of the predominant Australian culture of the time and became an observer, an artist who constructs his own realities from the deconstruction of his environment. Reality is not reproduced but recreated by Engler in a constant interchange of shapes and counter-shapes. His work questions traditional realist representation but at the same time is nourished by observation.
The ambiguity inherent in image making first fascinated Engler, when as a young boy he was introduced to art through the reproductions of landscapes by the South Australian painter Hans Heysen. He remembers the excitement of first realising that the illusion of a tree could be viewed simultaneously as daubs of paint on a surface. Realism and abstraction co-exist in Engler’s work. A hill can equally be read as a tactile surface of vermilion paint scumbled over umber. A house can be interpreted as a person viewing the world through the restriction of small windows. Duality occurs in many aspects of his work. Engler constructs images of real and synthesised Australian places, or perhaps they are evocations of the European villages of the artist’s ancestors.
Engler’s experience of subject matter is totally related to the means and materials of visual representation, a quality he has always admired in the work of French artist and printmaker, Henri Matisse. Similarly, he usually develops images in a series where his processes of working and reworking are evident. By manipulating and combining oilpaint, watercolour, printmaking and collage techniques, Engler internalises and transforms the material landscape. Drawing is central to all of his work and the use of transparent film as a support allows flexibility to record, layer and invent in a variety of graphic media. Final drawings are exposed and developed on light sensitive photopolymer plates. The resulting ‘solarplate’ etchings imbue the initial drawings with a darker abstract quality as seen in Murchison Gorge Landscape V. The etched plates also provide a matrix to develop several versions or trial prints of the same subject. Transparent watercolour paint is frequently fused with printmaking to extend ideas and create unique states as well as multiple copies, notable in the Coast Road series.
Engler’s paintings and prints sometimes evolve over a couple of years and even after they are finished the gradual process of understanding the imagery continues for both the artist and the viewer. Engler’s works reveal their content slowly and quietly within a world often preoccupied with transience, instant images and superficiality.
Printmaker / artist and former lecturer,
South Australian School of Art,
University of South Australia.
Currently a PhD candidate at the
Department of Art and Design, Monash University