LOS ANGELES, CA: albertz benda, Los Angeles and 1969 Gallery, New York present Caleb Hahne Quintana + Peter Dreher, a two-person exhibition of four historical paintings by Dreher and five newly-made works by Hahne Quintana.
Peter Dreher painted a water glass in the same position over 5,000 times in a series called Tag um Tag Guter Tag, or Day by Day, Good Day. It was his preoccupation for nearly 50 years before the artist died on February 18, 2020 at age 87. Though he also painted skulls, landscapes and other representational subjects while teaching at The State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe, Germany, his reputation posthumously centered on the water glasses. In form, Dreher water glasses repeat in height. The canvas sizes are the same 10h x 8w inches. Based on the time of day he painted them, they vary slightly in their reflections.
If we do the same thing or eat the same dish every day, it is a different thing, a different dish, because the elements of a day, like the ingredients for a recipe, never turn out the same exact result. Dreher’s water glasses are about seeing what the artist sees in meditative, artistic, and diaristic terms. Here is Tuesday, Dreher’s paintings suggest, and tomorrow you will see my Wednesday. Any repeating motif in art calls to mind Giorgio Morandi whose still lifes and table settings in green hold endless wonder for artists and art audiences.
Caleb Hahne Quintana’s water glass paintings come from a different prompt. During a 2020 residency in Los Angeles, he painted water glasses based on a discovery he made during the wildfires raging through southern Los Angeles - that nearly all the water for that region of California comes from the Colorado River. Hahne Quintana is from Denver, and the artistas- citizen came to occupy both sites. Questions ensued - Who gets the water first? What does it mean for the 3rd largest state to get water flowing from America’s 8th largest state, from its 5th longest river?
Hahne Quintana’s water glasses connect the politics of water to contemporary communities. The inclusion of a hand transforms his paintings into offerings – here is a glass of water for you, each hand suggests. Whether the hand is the generous hand of God who gives us water, the oceans and essential life, or the hand of the artist who creates an image full of poetic amplitude remains in the eye of the viewer, who might believe that both interpretations are possible simultaneously.
Dreher and Hahne Quintana seem to pose a similar, two-part interrogation as old as time - do you see what I see, and does it mean anything to you? If Dreher was comfortable in old age retelling and imposing the same personal story, Hahne Quintana is in a push-and-pull with himself; his water glass motif has generated coveted paintings, a successful series. Many 29-year-old artists frequently want to shut down what they become known for, in part because life is long with a lot of different making ahead, and much room still for impertinence.
“I have looked at so many of Dreher’s water glass paintings,” Hahne Quintana said. “I am baffled and honored to exhibit alongside them.” All aspiring, living artists talk to dead artists, even hoping to join them in the lineup of art history one day, if not outright take their spots. Installed in the setting of a mid-century open California home, filled with light and air, these paintings thrive in a fitting, elemental context.