« Haze Diedrich  

Haze Diedrich
430 South Estes Street
Lakewood CO 80226

2009 Artist Statement
This series of work is a continuation of the series that I began last year on spirituality and reincarnation. My investigations centers on the role of religious iconography of 19th century Spanish American Art on contemporary American Abstract Art. It began with a trip to Santa Fe last Christmas, where I saw an exquisite show of small devotional paintings called “retablos”. I was enthralled by the imagery and the naïve execution of the work. Retablos are very literal and direct interpretations of biblical events centered on the Virgin Mary and Christ along with the stories of the Saints. Retablos utilize very powerful religious symbolism to express these stories.

My abstract paintings are an investigation and an interpretation of that experience and of how the imagery can be used in an abstract non-representational manner. Some of the paintings are a direct response to certain retablos that I have seen while other paintings are more of an investigation into I how and where we connect to the spiritual in our everyday lives. All of the paintings share a common pictorial element, three distinct horizon planes. I am captivated by this idea of earth, air, and the heavens sharing different horizons or reaching a higher plane of consciousness. These planes can be literal or simply spiritual planes. Retablos utilize this format and used it repeatedly in conjunction with ornately painted framing. The color palette of the retablos was very limited using only primary colors plus black and white. The compositions utilized a central figure on a stage with distinct symbols representing the various elements of the theme of the work. I liked the stage as a metaphor for where we find our own spirituality and the larger works represent places that I have felt connected to my own spirituality, like mountain paths, desert planes and night skies. I used floral patterns, crowns, crosses and stars repeatedly to illicit a response into how the viewer thinks about their own spirituality, from the delicate intricacies of flora to the grandiose scale of stars and galaxies. These two extremes provoke awe and wonderment in my own life. My work is not a literal reinterpretation of the bible or any of the stories of the Saints, but rather an exploration into how I view my own spirituality.

Artist Statement
These selected paintings represent conversations about my life and the lives of my friends, questions about the color of my surroundings; they are arguments and stories about the times in my life. I am an abstract painter of memories that touch on the mechanical, biological and the poetic nature of life. I am trying to find the connections between the historical reasons for why I am making decisions today, while gently trying to make change in myself and those around me. I am a collection of brief encounters that have happened and they influence how I look at the world around me. Sometimes they are direct memories of a specific event that took place, like a birthday party that was hyped up beyond its own capability or a dinner that took place but the joy of friends around far overshadowed the main course. Sometimes they are simply attempts at trying to make order of the chaos when I look at a small stand of Aspens in the late afternoon while skiing by myself. But they are not a direct visual description of that event, they are the sum of brief moments in between the events high points and low points. I work in a fashion that requires constant analysis of the visual impact of color. I achieve my goals by reworking the layers and by scraping, sanding and scratching the top layers to reveal a past layer, like an onion unfolded and recombined I am trying to reveal and conceal my experiences at the same time. In this series of work I use palette knives and scrapers in place of brushes to create a greater sense of history in the canvas.

The patchwork technique of building up layers of color comes from many influences. I live in Colorado where the color of sky and land seem to absorb every bit of the sun's light. I am constantly looking at the relationship of the cool colors of the mountains and the dry colors of the prairies. I like how the colors of the variety of trees play with the ever changing colors of the sky. I am also deeply indebted to pattern and how pattern has been represented in art from the minimalist's Sol Lewitt to the color field painting of Brice Marden. I am drawn to the structural elements in abstract painting by Sean Scully and the color orchestration of Bridget Riley. My work departs from there work in that I am trying to connect to an event that happens and how I remember that event. I look to Jonathan Lasker and how he has removed figures and events to make room for a new kind of storytelling. Art remains a storyteller's passion and my stories are filled with passion, heartache, redemption and the paintings are the resultant struggle. I have removed the figures and the simple cause and effect story to explore how we remember an event through color and shape, texture and surface history.