I was an undergraduate when I was first introduced to Richard DiebenKorn. I was instructed to look at his figurative work as I was studying the figure then. I remember falling instantly in love with his landscape like figure paintings, where the figure fit perfectly into his paintings like the last piece of a puzzle. And his black and white, explorative figure drawings, where he searched out the figure in a landscape like manner.Upon investigating my trip to London last month, looking for what art to see during my visit, I discovered there was an exibition of Richard Diebenkorn's work open at The Royal Academy of Art, March 14 -June 7 and my excitement became to bubble. I have never seen a Diebenkorn in person before and I was now going to see a show of his work. I was beyond excited.
I am now sitting at my brother's desk in London, staring out the window at a very Large grey day. As I reflect on the exhibition, I keep coming back to three thoughts. One, I enjoyed the intimacy of the small three room show. Diebenkron's life and artwork amazingly fell into place within three moderately size rooms. Room one was filled with early abstraction pieces from his Urbana series and Berkeley series. Room two was filled with figurative work from his time at Berkeley and room three was his famous Ocean Park Series, from when he lived in Southern California. Although Diebenkron's body of work is much larger, the tiny show made me feel as if I was on a private studio tour with Diebenkorn. A feeling that would be lost in a bigger exhibition that would instead force you to relate to Diebenkorn's paintings in a completely different way.
Thought two was how cohesive Diebenkorn's whole body of work was. The word interchangeable comes to mind when I think of he abstract works and his figurative works. Take the figure out of one of Diebenkorn's many figurative pieces and you have an abstract painting. Put one of Diebenkorn's abstractly painted figures in an Ocean Park painting and you have a figurative painting. Sometimes artist's paint both figuratively and abstractly, but are not able to achieve the effortless cohesiveness between the two like Diebenkorn so easily did.
Third and last is color. While walking through the exhibit two artist's names came to mind. Thoughts of De Kooning shot into my head while enjoying Diebenkorn's early abstract work, that was more gestural in nature. Rothko's color popped into my head while exploring the the Ocean Park paitnings. When you look at a Rothko painting the color has this immediate vibration that hits you smack in the face, like a shot of vodka. However, when you look at a Diebenkorn the vibration of color is slower to hit. You have to take your time and drink the painting in, like a good glass if wine. Speaking of wine, I think I will do just that, but instead a nice crisp cold glass of water and contemplate my studio visit with an artist I truly admire. If your in the London area make sure to check out the show!