Graeme Drendel


Graeme Drendel a painter and printmaker, gave a very interesting and informative talk at the March, Hawthorn Artist Society Artists Talks Series, the second for 2015. 

Drendel bought alonga number of his sketch books which he most generously allowed the audience to peruse. For the entirety of his working life as an artist he has been recording in his journals, drawing forming a major part of every figure in every painting he has done. The detail and variety of his subject matter has provided the framework for his vast and complex psychological narratives, the realm of the psychological reactions of his characters, being at the forefront of his ideas.

He uses his family as models walking a tightrope about being not sure what is going to happen and how the composition will evolve. Drendel often starts with one figure and the subsequent placement of his other figures and the relationships between each figure and the scale of the painting, can evolve from nothing. ”Once Amongst the Many’ is an example.

Drendel has been influenced by the early Renaissance painters Giotto, Piero Della Francesca, the French painter Balthus,  Australian painters Geoffrey Smart and Peter Booth and David Hockney, another significant influence, when Hockney introduced the human figure back into his paintings.

Drendel also looks at the issue of suicide in the country in Australia and more particularly the region where he grew up. In the painting, ‘The Kiss’ two men embrace in the middle of nowhere, the magic carpet a solace of comfort.

He has tried to relate his imagery to things he was seeing in the old masters paintings, looking intently at the dress of people in his paintings and the location of the painting. 

His portraits and landscapes based in Coburg Melbourne, Turin and the landscapes of Italy, have always had some connection back to the Mallee in the dry empty landscapes and the low horizons. As a child, Drendel saw Greek temples and columns in books, and although he has never used specific things from the Mallee landscape, the silo being the ubiquitous form in every Mallee town, became a potent symbol for him.‘The Blue Shape’  a triangular blue form sits in a quiet landscape akin to the silo form.

Hawthorn Artists Society committee thank Graeme for a personal and unique insight into an understanding of the actions of his characters which ‘present an animated tableaux embodying a truism ‘that life is not a dress rehearsal’ (Beaver Galleries)