Guy Diehl
Still Life with Diebenkorn, 2015
etching with acrylic
16 x 17.75 in. (paper 22.5 x 23.5 in.)
edition of 30

Guy Diehl’s “art about art” continues to defy simple categorization: his compositions seem to exist in an elegant and timeless world of their own, even as they make specific and unmistakable references to art-historical figures and movements; he depicts still life tableaux without the nostalgic trappings of the traditional still life; and even the method used to create his artworks, particularly his print editions with Magnolia Editions, is intentionally ambiguous at first glance. “Ultimately,” Diehl says, “I like to confound the viewer: is it a painting or a print?”

Like many of Diehl’s editions, Still Life with Diebenkorn began as a painting, part of the artist’s recent turn away from using incandescent photographic lights in his studio toward letting daylight illuminate his subject matter. When creating the source painting, Diehl says he avoids detail: “I paint just as much as I need to be convincing” – and the objects are chosen more for their forms than for any symbolic import. “In my studio, the objects bear no real connection to each other,” he explains, “but a relationship emerges in the viewer’s mind upon viewing the final work.” In this case, that work takes the form of an etching printed in black ink with subsequent layers of UV-cured acrylic adding color and texture. Though the effect may not have been calculated, it is easy to read Diehl’s composition, with the rigid, exact lines of the calipers growing loose and liquid when viewed through the carafe of water, as a poetic representation of the singular mix of geometric precision and sun-drenched West Coast atmosphere that became Richard Diebenkorn’s trademark. – Nick Stone