Inspired by the sheep and wheat properties of his childhood as well as regular visits to the cinema, Graeme Drendel’s skilfully executed paintings and prints are driven by narratives which are not always immediately apparent to the viewer. The subjects in his works, drawn from personal observations, often appear as ensemble players in the wide brown spaces of popular Australian folklore. These drama-laced vistas display an ambiguous relationship between the ground and sky, with dark tonal variations suggesting the shadowy onset of dusk or the lull before a storm. The compositions of his works present animated tableaux that embody the truism that “life isn’t a dress rehearsal”. The actions of Graeme’s players often appear paradoxical, fluctuating between highly theatrical gestures and the tragic consequences of mortality, yet harnessed with a rhythmic sense of balance. Graeme often models the male figures in his works upon himself and his female figures, at times, clearly display the features of his wife, charging the work with heightened sensuality.
Graeme Drendel completed a Diploma of Teaching Art and Craft from Melbourne State College in 1974. After teaching for several years, Graeme travelled extensively throughout Italy, United Kingdom and United States. In 2006, he was a finalist in the Art Gallery of NSW’s Sulman Prize, and, in 2011, a finalist in the Dobell Drawing Prize. With over twenty solo exhibitions to his name, Graeme’s work can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Artbank, Australian Print Workshop and numerous regional galleries.