"Joerg Dressler" Panoramas"
423 Commercial Street
August 13 through 26
Like the extraordinary Hans Hofmann before him — also a
native of Germany who fell in love with the very terminus of
Cape Cod and painted there with devotion — Joerg Dressler is
deeply attracted to Provincetown.
Known as America’s oldest art colony, the site has long attracted remarkable
artists, notably, Hofmann and his many students. Dressler arrived in 1996,
exactly 30 years following Hofmann’s death. The “summer place by the sea and
a world away” from Munich, Paris and New York (as James Yohe, who represents
the Hofmann estate, has described the town) again strangely resonates with
Dressler. His tangible affinity for Provincetown serves as a foil for his own
biographical filiations with Hamburg, or Paris, or Boston.
If Provincetown is Dressler’s personal and artistic mooring, it is especially the
meeting of ocean and sky that pulls him in, much as it propels his art. The
horizon is the main subject of “Panoramas,” his first presentation of a body
of works exclusively in this immersive, wide-angle format. Whether triptychs
or even “pentychs” (five elements), Dressler’s multi-panel paintings position
viewers alongside the artist to scan the natural and built environment. He
suggests the horizon is a limit in terms of space, a kind of ever-mobile seam.
For Dressler, who is also an avid bicyclist, physical and psychological passage
through time is conjured by looking left and right at the moving landscape/
seascape, as he comments, “Although my paintings start out as mental
snapshots, they are more than mere depictions of a singular moment. They
are a conglomeration of various episodes: a distant memory, a recent plan,
a subconscious impression of a millisecond — all coming together in the
anticipation of something new.”
In Dressler’s paintings, horizons seem to multiply, and the proportion of sky to
land is constantly readjusted, as is the coloration of elements.
“Like the parallel and overlapping experiences of psychological time, new
layers of paint cover previous ones, while older layers remain relevant,”
In carefully constructed works, Dressler uses a palette knife. He scratches
at the surface with the back of the knife, and allows drips of paint and bare
canvas areas to participate, along with imprints from other materials. His
work engages us to move from relatively unobstructed views through the felt
presence of the built environment. While a cool, blue/green emphasis is a
favored palette, in each of the square components that comprise his panoramic
views, Dressler also creates graphic structures of balance that function top to
bottom, left to right. What might be rigid is made dynamic, as he experiments
with bold cadmium streaks or other devices that push him to discover new
modes of imaging without losing himself.
Among the panoramas shown is a triptych from Dressler’s “Water’s Edge”
series, a painterly painting providing the new vantage point of looking
down, as if beneath the horizon, at floating water lilies. Claude Monet is, of
course, referenced in this work that opens up to luscious surface incident and
unleashes Dressler’s gestural painting in strong yellow-green/red-violet hues
along with creamy yellows.
Dressler was born in Hanau, Germany, the town of the Brothers Grimm. Their
dark-spirited forest tales certainly would have impressed any child. As a young
adult he engaged with Claude Lévi-Strauss’ study of myths. These experiences
combine to underscore the value of balancing positive and negative forces
that Dressler translates into artistic terms. Still, he prods himself to uncover