On the 28th of April at 6pm the p420 Gallery (Piazza dei Martiri, 5/2) will hold the first solo exhibition in Italy of the German artist Peter Dreher (Mannheim, 1932).
A graduate of the State Academy of Karlsruhe, where he also became a teacher from 1968, from the very start Dreher sought a simple, recognisable and familiar subject for his painting, a subject that had no purpose other than being a pretext for painting.
So in 1972 he painted his first glass. A common glass, anonymously rested on a table and illuminated by a cold artificial light.
It would be the first in a long series (Tag um Tag ist guter Tag - Day by day good day), as from 1974 onwards Dreher painted that same glass over and over again, in the same conditions, in the same position and from the same perspective.
He painted it and repainted it dozens of times every year, just as he continues to do today, forty years later, in the same medium of oil on canvas and true to its actual dimensions.
He also began to paint it by the light of day, allowing a single concession to the serial character of the painting, given by the reflection – on a small portion of the glass – of the studio window, which is different every day.
The same glass thousands of times over, the same but always different. An obsession with repetition only to realise that every repetition is unique. Unique in the way a self-portrait is.
And this is perhaps the sense of Peter Dreher’s painting, which contains within it all the anxieties of somebody who feels the urgency of the passing of time but does not want the changes this entails, somebody who through obsessed painting almost seeks confirmation that nothing is different from the day before, but ends up stumbling across those tiny details that betray the distance between the immutable glass and the impermanence of human existence.
Peter Dreher’s work is therefore much more than realist painting. It is Conceptual
research that is much closer to the work of Roman Opalka and On Kawara that the Realism of Lucian Freud or Edward Hopper. Perhaps it is even a personalised abstraction, as Hans Ulrich Obrist proposed in his recent interview with Peter Dreher, taking an expression from Raymond Hains, a repetition that
is methodical as much as it is compulsive and that loads the painting of the glass with many further meanings.
Peter Dreher has had many exhibitions in museums, such as the recent solo exhibitions at the Mamco in Geneva, the Kunsthalle in Erfurt and the Kunstverein in Ulm.
The artist will be present at the opening.
Peter Dreher has created an artist’s book for the occasion, Day by day good day 1974 – 2012, which is available in the gallery.