Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce A Dialogue with Tradition II, an exhibition of new
works by Bay Area painter Guy Diehl, on view November 5–December 5, 2015. Over the past
thirty years, Diehl has explored the still-life format to make art about art, finding new and nuanced
modes of execution to illuminate ways of both seeing art and appreciating the art historical canon.
Within the last year, natural light has become a central focus for Diehl, who previously relied on
artificial illumination via incandescent light to create his unique variant of realistic paintings. Diehl
explains: “While collaborating with a photographer friend and colleague, I was shown new ways to
manipulate daylight that I had not considered before. Seeing endless combinations created with
daylight and subject matter, I can set up a still life and photograph it throughout the day, while
working with the visual changes that the natural illumination will bring to the composition.”
Painting, of course, is rooted in the science of light: each pigment is the result of a particular
mixing of different colors of light. 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.
Although none of the paintings are explicitly about Vermeer, they are all suffused with the Dutch
artist’s hallmark mastery of shadow and light to create depth, richness, and movement. In
Conversation with Egon Schiele (2015), the objects take on an enhanced vitality as a result of the
bright, low, raking daylight that Diehl observes, records, and synthesizes as it moves across the
objects. Here, the dark face of a rectangular white box is offset by its brightly illuminated side and
top, which are further enhanced by the shadow-play of a spherical object that sits on the box.
Contrasts provided by an intriguing object wrapped in parchment paper are equally dramatic and
add important texture and depth to the composition by introducing a range of mid-tone values.
Finally, an otherwise static postcard featuring one of Schiele’s nudes, reinterpreted here by Diehl,
is cleverly set in motion by an iridescent shell marked by swirls of pink and blue. The shell also
figures as a symbol of the feminine and a nod to art historical iconography in that it codes, among
other things, the Fibonacci sequence—otherwise known as the golden ratio—made famous by
Leonardo da Vinci and here embodied by Schiele-cum-Diehl’s sitting female figure.
Guy Diehl was born in 1949 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned his BA from California State
University Hayward in 1973 followed by his MA from San Francisco State University in 1976. In addition to exhibiting extensively across the United States and at select international galleries,
Diehl was featured in the acclaimed 2014 exhibition “Realism, Really?” at the Sonoma Valley
Museum of Art. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Fine Arts Museums of
San Francisco, the San Jose Museum of Art, and the Oakland Museum of California. This is his third solo show at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery