Peter Dreher | Seelenlandschaften


Peter Dreher: Seelenlandschaften
November 16-January 5, 2019
Opening reception: Friday, November 16, 6-9PM

Koenig & Clinton is pleased to announce Seelenlandschaften, Dreher’s third solo exhibition with the gallery. Featuring a series of skyscapes painted during Dreher’s visitation to the same area of the Black Forest during the late 1970′s onward, the works epitomize Dreher’s dedication to his medium and methodology through the lens of nature.  

Dreher’s practice is one based on repetition and revisitation, a dedication to selected and specific subject matter and a devotion to the general act of rendering such forms, unveiling nuances and variations in the viewer’s perception. Perhaps most recognized for his series Tag um Tag guter Tag, in which he painted the same empty glass for over forty years, Dreher’s work inhabits the terrain between observation and documentation, zen in its structure and unyielding in its desire for control. It is testament to his belief that every act of seeing, so deeply embedded with our own experiences, results in a new encounter each time with the same object, one that defies any expectation of objectivity such control might imply.  

Yet here, Dreher’s focus is on the sky, a subject which itself evades control and repetition in every sense: its inability to be witnessed in entirety, its shifting colors, form, and patterns which evade determinate definition. Dreher’s realism is juxtaposed with our knowledge that his rendering of reality is a memory, a step behind-the clouds have moved, the light has transformed, or disappeared by the time Dreher has captured it; instead his brushstrokes speak to impermanence and the unknown: the fluid nature of memory and the vacillating border of knowing and seeing, recalling and perceiving. It is realism rooted not in a desire to create a photographic replica, but in a certain truthfulness. 


It is a truthfulness that extends to the painter and his commitment to being deeply present: Dreher returns to the same forest, the same sky, the same glass- whether still-life or landscape, his paintings are the embodiment of experience. It is a truthfulness that is not based on impartiality, but on the viewer’s presence: the object’s existence necessitates the viewer’s gaze, always standing in relation to its witness. 

It is difficult to circumvent allusions grounded in historicity: Dreher’s studies of the sky and its infinite states conjure references to Romanticism and The Hudson River School in their content and exaltation of unadulterated nature. But Dreher’s practice always returns to the practice of painting itself, which is for Dreher the most deserving subject of adulation. The mutable skyscapes meld with a proclivity toward both totality and exactitude without calculation, as if with each painting, Dreher works not toward an ideal, but a moment worth immortalizing only so as to enable the act of painting.


Peter Dreher (b. 1932, Mannheim, Germany) graduated from the State Academy of Fine Arts at Karlsruhe in 1956. From 1968 to 1997, Dreher served as professor of painting at the State Academy, Karlsruhe, where he earned the honorary chair of painting in 1965. During his professorship, he taught and influenced a number of acclaimed artists, including Anselm Kiefer and Wolfgang Laib. In April 2017, the artist opened a solo exhibition at The Mayor Gallery, London; followed by his exhibition Behind the Mirror at Koenig & Clinton. Notable solo exhibitions of Dreher’s work have been presented at institutions internationally including: Milton Keynes Museum, Great Britain (2013); Landesvertretung Baden-Würtemberg, Berlin (2012); Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva (2011), Museum Erfurt, Germany (2008); and Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden (1977). Recent group exhibitions include: Aos nossos pais (To Our Parents), Bienal de São Paulo, curated by Alejandro Cesarco and Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro (2018); Inside: Contemporary Artists and Writers in Reading Prison, organized by Artangel; and Accrochage curated by Caroline Bourgeois, Punta dell Dogana, Pinault Collection, Venice. His work is represented in public collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Columbus Museum of Art, OH; Kolumba (Diözesanmuseum), Cologne; Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Germany; and MAMCO, Geneva; among others. Dreher is a member of the Association of German Artists. The artist is represented by Koenig & Clinton, Brooklyn. He lives and works in Wittnau, Germany.