by Andrew Webster
For over 30 years, painter Guy Diehl has not only perfected his pictorial illusionism, he has intimately explored the ways in which still life can be employed to make art about art, allowing his viewers to both see and appreciate tradition in new and exciting ways.
Guy Diehl | Still Life with Modigliani #11, 2015 | Acrylic on canvas | 22 x 30 inches
Opening on November 5 at Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco is a solo exhibition of Diehl’s newest works, which showcase the artist’s recent exploration with natural lighting rather than the artificial illumination he was accustomed to. The resulting paintings, some 16 in the exhibition, are absolutely riveting in their simplicity and their extraordinary clarity and accuracy. What is more, the nod to — and dialogue with - the art historical canon adds a rich layer of reflexivity, contemplation, and narrative to the pictures that will undoubtedly leave viewers wanting more.
Guy Diehl | Still Life with Kandinsky, 2010 | Acrylic on canvas | 22 x 30 inches
The gallery reports, “As Diehl’s work has long set itself in immediate dialogue with art history – each painting creates a reflexive narrative around a specific artist, such as Richard Diebenkorn, Amedeo Modigliani, Egon Schiele, and Francisco De Zurbaran, among others – a return to the most basic form of illumination, one that is elemental to painting, therefore brings his entire process full circle.”
Guy Diehl | Still Life with Matisse, 2015 | Acrylic on canvas | 22 x 30 inches
Still Life with Modigliani #11 is only one of the numerous masterpieces in the exhibition. Among a muted, blank, light brown background, we find a simple arrangement of objects along with a postcard displaying Modigliani’s famous Caryatid. From the left, a natural light source floods the scene, illuminating each object sharply. The lighting itself recalls the dramatic compositions of Baroque painters. The objects — a tall glass bottle, a sphere, stick, box, and inkwell — lean against the background, but equally leap from the surface through their illumination. Perhaps recalling Modigliani’s cubist or modernist sympathies, each object has a simplicity of form, nearly geometric.
Guy Diehl: A Dialogue with Tradition II opens on November 5 and will hang through December 5.