Graeme Drendel Essay
Published Wednesday, 2 January 2002The figure in art has often been used as a 'conceptual mask' to hide or subtly present an idea or context in a visual manner. The allegory is one process of masking; historically it has been a practice, which allow the artist the ability to express difficult and complex concepts as in the case of medieval art.
By decoding the story a far more complex story or theme
emerges, for example stories of past kings, that might relate to the political
or social leader of the time.
The human form has been used as an allegorical device that conveys many ideas
and beliefs. Drendel's work demonstrates the power of allegorical narratives in
painting; the human figure is the key element to his work.
The treatment of the figure in Drendel's paintings becomes a character for a
setting or scene orchestrated by the artist himself, reality and imagination
merge. His work transfixes the psychological state of the artists sharing the
imaginative state of the artists through his development of imagery. He
visualises what is personal and creates a number of settings encourage symbolic
Drendel embraces the tradition of the figure in the landscape, however he
applies a double reading to the work by mediating the subject matter with an
imaginative perception that goes beyond realism. The figure takes on the
character in a drama; the setting is often surreal. The subjects are stripped
of their familiar environments and placed in isolated landscapes. Their attire
suggests a specific identity or status and serves to heighten the incongruent
nature of the event. The figure placed in a particular setting alludes to a
deeper meaning that references the unconscious. The primacy of his work refers
to his intuitive sense of developing the pictorial plane.
He constructs 'visual anecdotes' that give the audience a glimpse into the life
of the artist, in which the human body is employed as sign that highlights the
artist's experiences, imagination and aspirations. The settings could be viewed
as personal psychodrama, where each character proposes a particular identity
and behind this is the suggestion of an allegorical element. Each title points
to a deeper reading of the work, higlighting his interest into the
philosophical question of aesthetics and existence. Beneath his lucid titles
lies a complex world of critical thought, which is consolidated with a
technical virtuosity in the handling of painting and formulation of
By Craig Malyon
Questions on the Artist
Drendel's paintings appear to be depicting an event or activity. His narratives
are loaded with symbols and a variety of potential meanings. Select one of the
paintings and give an account of the narrative constructed by the artist.
Do you think his paintings are Surreal?
What is the purpose of placing his subject in a isolated landscape?
Drendel sees his practice as a 'journey' - can you discuss this approach to his
What is meant by the term 'limpid colour palette'?
Critically analyse one of the painting in this process attempt to unravel the
significance of his title which assist in fabrication of the conceptual
resolution within the artwork.