by Ricardo Martinez
Guy Diehl creates still life paintings, and that is something he had been known for during the last couple of decades. However, these are not your everyday still life paintings. Guy Diehl creates artworks that are about art – he connects present and past by painting books. Books are main subjects of Diehl’s artworks: every painting has a specific artist as a part of its narrative, and Diehl is using books in order to start the dialogue between art history and today’s viewers. And during November and December, visitors of Dolby Chadwick Gallery will be able to see that dialogue when they visit Guy Diehl’s exhibition named A Dialogue with Tradition II.
In his own words, Guy Diehl is not sure if he fits into today’s art world – simply put, his style is not usual these days. His paintings resemble old masters – particularly Johannes Vermeer, with his spectacular use of natural light – and Diehl himself doesn’t know if he is a traditional realist or a classic modernist. At the beginning of his career, in 1974, when he was only a 20-something student/artist (born in 1949), Diehl enrolled in Masters degree course of Fine Art at San Francisco State University, and was a part of first generation of photo-realist artist, with Robert Bechtle and Richard McLean as his mentors. That, of course, affected Diehl’s style, and during the next period he created photorealistic paintings. Then, in the beginning of the eighties, Diehl discovered works by Gordon Cook – in Diehl’s own words, he had “epiphany” when he saw Cook’s minimal still lifes.
It was the time when still lifes became popular – again – but with a little twist: artists used still life in order to create some satirical, or parodical works that were related with political or social subjects. However, Guy Diehl wasn’t that kind of an artist: he was dead-serious and totally dedicated to creating a sort of homage with his paintings. Actually, Diehl was paying homage to old masters with his paintings in two way: in one way, he dedicated his works to some big names of the art history; in the other, Diehl praised painstaking craft of painting. Since 1992, Guy Diehl started introducing books as primary subjects of his work, making connections with the art history – he included Cubism, German Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism and the artists of the early Modernist period from 1900 to the present.
We’ve mentioned that Diehl is opening art dialogue with the history of art, and visitors of Dolby Chadwick Gallery will see these dialogues between Richard Diebenkorn, Amedeo Modigliani, Egon Schiele, and Francisco De Zurbaran, among others. Guy Diehl’s exhibition A Dialogue with Tradition II – his third solo show at Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco – will be on display for one month, from November 5th to December 5th.