Peter Dreher: Behind The Mirror

Koenig & Clinton

459 W 19th St, New York

April 13 – May 20, 2017

Koenig & Clinton is pleased to announce Peter Dreher’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, Behind the Mirror, a presentation of historical works on paper and paintings that span seven decades (1947–2017) of the artist’s career. Beginning with anatomical drawings that mark the start of the artist’s formal training, the exhibition focuses exclusively on the subject of the skull as it reappears and transmutes over time.

In his initial studies, Dreher renders the standard academic motif, in this case a toothy skull, from multiple angles. He learns to form the illusion of volume through the studied application of shading, highlighting, and color. The turning over of the examined object will remain constant over the years as the artist’s thinking about perception will continue to change.

In a series of small-scale paintings, a single skull is extracted from its traditional still life table arrangement. Both the dramatic colors of earthly excess, as well as the moral weight of vanitas are toned down drastically, so that the artist might isolate the sobering weight of mortality.

By the mid-2000s, a new type of anatomical investigation commences, as Dreher inverts his traditional palette to see more clearly. It’s as though the artist has granted the viewer a new X-ray vision. We can now peer inside the skull, as our eyes trace the nacreous arches that emerge from the inky ground. During these same years, the artist drew a parallel series of pale skulls on a white ground. In this accompanying set of close up drawings, the artist sparingly delineates the hollows that threaten to sink back into the ground of the page.

At a certain point, repetition gives way to accumulation. Like spring petals drifting on the surface of some deep pool, several ghostly skulls now collect over the surface of a dark void. Compositions are more or less populated, but regardless of quantity, the inevitability of the dark cosmos is now shared.