ABOUT THE ARTIST
Man on the Edge
In Diedrich’s process, the medium is the message: poured paint creates edges much as a body of water etches its shore. Flow patterns of water-born pigment form the currents in a microcosm of the sea. Man leaves his mark.
In the beginning of this decade-long series of paintings, the artist was immersed in the setting of a North Georgia mountain lake. Trained as an architect, he focused on the necklace of architectural artifacts that was formed by man in his natural affinity to settling along the water’s edge. Fascinated, he began to paint the phenomenon, initially realistically in traditional watercolor, rendering the setting of mountain, lake, and sky accented with architectural elements of houses and marine structures lining the shore. Feeling that his audience “didn’t get it”, over a period of years, he began to eliminate superfluous content that didn’t contribute to the message. First to go was the sky, then the mountains, architectural elements became simple geometric shapes. He tried representing man’s affinity in two views, however, an eye-level with the line of the horizon evolving at the edge into man’s domain and an aerial, showing the juxtaposition of the geometric pattern of man’s settlement with the natural pattern of flow of the body of water. Until this point, the artist worked with brush and paper, although the field of color representing water might be created through repetitive glazes soaking the paper with a large wash brush. Eventually, however, three things happened that were an epiphany for the artist:
• Stretched watercolor canvas became available which, contrary to paper, presented a
flat, tiltable surface upon which the paint would flow rather than be absorbed
• Rather than brushed-on, paint would be poured, representing the content in its flow.
• The artist realized, “it’s the water, stupid”, recognizing that the focus of man and as a
result, the painting is the body of water.
The water became a dominating color field and the line of the horizon. Man became the pattern of his need to master the bodies of water, lines of latitude and longitude, channel markers and flight paths.
Continued pruning has searched for the essence of content, however. Poured paint flows as the color field, forming the body of water and the edge; man is the artist’s gesture delineating the line of the horizon.
RICHARD J. DIEDRICH, FAIA
Artist/Architect – Atlanta, Georgia
Signature Member – Georgia Watercolor Society
The focus of my painting is a series entitled: “Man on the Edge”
It is an expression of man’s affinity toward settling where the water meets the land, whether it be a lakefront, seashore, or urban waterfront.
Joel Shapses Studio Gallery
Burton Dam Rd at 197
Clarkesville, GA 30523
1175 Senor Road North
Tyrone, GA 30290
Exhibitions: Juried Group Exhibitions
ArtCAN 2012, 2013
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia
Fine Arts Workshop
Fall Exhibit 2012, 2013,2014
Bill Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA
Architects as Artists - 2011
Swan Coach House Gallery, Atlanta, GA
The Quinlan Visual Arts Center
Annual Members Exhibition 1996-2012
Mixed media exhibit
Teresa Osborn, Judge
2008 Exhibit Best of Show Painting
William Underwood Eiland, Director, The Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA
Georgia Watercolor Society Exhibitions
2013 Signature Exhibition
Johns Creek Art Center, Johns Creek, GA
2012 Members Exhibition
Chris Krupinski, Judge
Mable House Arts Center, Mableton, GA
2012 Signature Exhibition
Johnsons Creek Art Center, Johns Creek, GA
2011 National Exhibition
Christopher Schink, Judge
Carrollton Cultural Arts Center, Carrollton, GA
2010 Members Exhibition
Linda Baker, Judge
Quinlan Visual Arts Center, Gainesville, GA
2002, 2000, 1998, 1997
Colombier, St. Barthelemy
French West Indies
Fine Arts Workshop 2012-2013
King Plow Center, Atlanta, GA
Instructor: Michael David
Intensive Studies Seminar
Nine annual sessions between 2003-2015
K. Chang Liu
University of Illinois
College of Fine Arts
Painting Instructor: Louise Woodruff
Ecole d’Art Americaines
Margaret T. Biddle Scholarship
University of Illinois
Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architecture
Richard Diedrich’s Man on The Edge
In Richard Diedrich’s large scale, luminous watercolors on canvas, he extends the disciplines of water color painting and color field painting by taking the scale and process of each idiom to the edge of each genre’s precedents.
‘Color Field' painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to Abstract Expressionism. Color Field is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color, spread across or stained into the canvas creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane. The movement places less emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and action in favor of an overall consistency of form and process. In color field painting (according to Wikipedia), "color is freed from objective context and becomes the subject in itself."
At first glance it’s easy to locate Diedrich within the color field genalogy of Frankenthaler’s “Mountain and Sea”, Morris Louis Veils, and Paul Jenkins' early stain paintings. They share the process of combining the pouring of paint as pure liquid and intense color, on raw or (with minimal under painting) linen or canvas. Each of these modern masters arrives at different places because of their different intentionalities. Frankenthaler, I believe, extends the language of Turner and landscape painting, Louis extends the gesture and “act” of painting stated as empirical by Pollack and the luminosity via the Transparent Color sensation of Rothko, and Jenkins the intimacy of the most delicately jewel-like of Indian Mughal Painting.
Diedrich, I pose, intentionally or unintentionally continues and extends the language of color field painting by adding an element of personal psychological content. For Diedrich, I believe there is a deep emotive attempt at reconciliation between his discipline as an architect for 40 years and the desire, “not to think, not to control, to be free.” I think the challenge to Diedrich is to rebel against his natural tendency to “control” a discipline honed as an architect, by his unprecedented use of a water color on this scale, and his love of gesture and pure color. There is a literal coming to a “psychological and personal edge” which he has added to the lexicon of color field painting.
In conversations about this series Man on the Edge, Diedrich talks about his love of the sea, going to lakeshores when he was young and how man and civilizations organize around the shore. I believe these paintings are a deep intuitive mapping of that collective organizing principle as well as his aforementioned desire to resolve problems to a greater understanding of the risks that come with freedom, release and abandon.
The series Man on the Edge may have started as literal expression and mapping of where water meets the shore; beautifully actualized by Diedrich’s process, in which he pours liquid “water/color”, using tape, frisket, even the seams of the panels, one against the other to create edges, and where exquisitely intimate passages and transitions pool and recede at the edges after they unfurl, sometimes wash away and reveal themselves and the passage of time and topography in transparent veils of color sensation and gesture. But I think in the end this process, this exploration has led Diedrich to a deeper, richer sense of place, beyond the abstract quotation of landscape, or the quotation of an abstract theoretical painting practice, but to a place where each artist weighs what they will risk losing in order to learn more about themselves and thereby revealing a sense of place, personal and collective that we may enter and join in.
- Michael David 2013