German-born painter Peter Dittmar combines western esthetic skills with eastern symbolism in his ongoing solo exhibition New Colour Windows.
Colour Window No. HHH, by Peter Dittmar. JP/I Wayan Sunarta
The displayed works are a vivid testament of the artist’s incessant journey to reach the state of emptiness so revered by eastern philosophy.
Held at Tony Raka, a gallery in Mas, Ubud, known to support contemporary and avant-garde art, the one month-long exhibition is curated by noted art critic Jean Couteau.
Dittmar’s works are the visual equivalence of haiku, the short and spontaneous traditional Japanese poetry, a revealing condensation of the true nature of experience.
Haiku is commonly associated with reclusive poets mesmerized by the solitary serenity of Mother Nature.
His works offer such meditative tranquility with geometric shapes, such as circles, squares, and rectangles placed in beautiful composition upon layers of colors. He used rice paper, common in Chinese religious rituals, as the primary medium.
The squares and rectangles frame the colors and guide the spectators to look at what Dittmar has to offer. To some extent, the squares and rectangles are the windows of colors, thus, hence the title of the exhibition.
The arrangement of the geometric shapes brings to mind the Mandala, sacred geometric shapes and spatial structure used in esoteric Hinduism and Buddhism teachings at the center of a meditator’s attention. In several works, Dittmar played with shades and hues to create the illusion of depth and space. In other works, he worked his brushes in uninhibited strokes and powerful splashes, creating a visual calligraphy.
Dittmar is no stranger to eastern philosophy and spirituality. He had travelled to India to quench his thirst at the springs of Hinduism and Buddhism cosmology.
He studied and practiced Zen Buddhism, a school of thought that often defies logic and places the emphasis on direct and spontaneous enlightenment.
On a spiritual quest: Peter Dittmar is a respected artist in his country of origin, Germany, and in Australia as well as in Bali, where he spends half of his time since 1982. JP/I Wayan Sunarta
Dittmar also immersed himself in the study of Japanese and Chinese calligraphy, searching the secret behind conveying messages with the least strokes.
Born in 1945 in Munich, Dittmar was educated at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. Later on, he juggled his time between creating art works and teaching arts. His teaching stints included Jakarta Institute of Art (IKJ) and Federal University of Para in Belem, Brazil.
He has participated in joint and solo exhibitions at numerous cities across the world, including New York, Tokyo, Basel, Berlin, Hong Kong and Melbourne, and has lived in Bali since 1982.
Dittmar said most of his works were about spiritual soul-searching and contemplation on the nature of cosmos. He believes the cosmos was constructed by two different elements that complement and harmonize each other, be it nature-culture; male-female; the Balinese’ Rwa Bhinneda and the Chinese Yin-Yang.
The exhibition’s curator, Jean Couteau, said the displayed works were quite different from Dittmar’s earlier paintings. The latest works show a higher level of control and order as well as minimum color processing.
“Dittmar has continuously explored the essence of colors and space, to find a totally different form of abstraction. Surely, that exploration is closely connected to his spiritual search,” he said.
— Photos by Wayan Sunarta