1 - 20 March 2012
about the exhibition
Graeme Drendel’s paintings and works on paper portray surreal landscapes filled with mysterious and captivating narratives. The sparse exterior environment captured by the artist brings to light the interior world of his characters and their relationships, creating a sense of vulnerability and unease. Through Graeme’s unique sense of humour and compassion, complex dramas illustrating psychological, sexual and proprietorial issues emerge. The actions of Graeme’s players sometimes appear paradoxical, fluctuating between highly theatrical gestures and the tragic consequences of mortality. There is often a sense of disconnectedness for the single figures as well as those individuals seen to be a part of a group. At times he models the male figures on himself and some of his female figures mirror the features of his wife, imbuing the work with heightened sensuality. Shadowy vistas imply an ambiguous relationship between the ground and sky, with dark tonal variations suggesting the onset of dusk or the lull before a storm. Graeme’s skilfully executed paintings and prints are enriched by his vivid memories of the sheep and wheat properties of his childhood as well as his fascination with cinema. His paintings are driven by narratives which are not always immediately apparent to the viewer and his etchings throw a spotlight on the individual. Ultimately we are left to wonder if we are all outsiders.
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, Graeme was a finalist in the Art Gallery of NSW’s Sulman Prize and has since completed two artist in residences. Recently he was a finalist in the Dobell Drawing Prize in 2011 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. 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. This is Graeme’s first exhibition in Canberra.