The Real Deal

Reflections on Teaching, Reading, and Writing...and Art

August 2013

Throughlines Blogspot

Guy Diehl is an artist in San Francisco who has an interesting take on still life painting. While he has a terrific sense of color and balance, his control over the paint is such that it doesn't really look like paint at all. His meticulous technique draws attention not to the making or to the gesture but to the beauty of the colors and the forms themselves. There is a centeredness, a stillness, a meditative quality to his works which is calming and inviting. His still-life settings are rendered in such a way that the shadows add to the suggestion that this is a particular moment that is being held so that we can enter into it and breathe within it.

There's also a kind of witty intelligence about his paintings; he often includes elements in his paintings that highlight his connections to other artists and writers. As for example in this painting, Still Life With Giorgio Morandi:

Diehl is clearly working in the tradition of artists like Morandi and William Bailey. In this painting, he explicitly acknowledges Morandi not only by the selection and arrangement of the various Morandi-esque vessels, but by including as horizonal elements in the composition two books, one of which has Morandi's name on the spine.

Likewise, in Still Life with William Harnett, he pays homage to that early American master of trompe l'oeil by including several books, one entitled American Still Life Masters and one entitled William Harnett. I like that there is a bookmark sticking out of American Still Life Masters, suggesting this is a book in active use, and I like that the books and the bottles suggest nourishment for the body and for the brain, the painting itself providing nourishment for the eye.

Still life with Orange Sphere links out to the world of architecture, and its elements - the sphere, the rectangle, the calipers, the bottles, the book are chosen and arranged in such a way as to emphasize the space between and around them in a way that is quite different from the more solid, triangular groupings in the first paintings. Architecture is the art of defining space through structure, and the composition of this painting emphasizes that:

During September Diehl has a show going up at the Dolby-Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco. All images in this post are from their web site, where there are many more.