Peter Dreher: ‘Every Day is a Good Day (#1329)’, detail – oil on Canvas, 25x20cm
Plenty of artists do pretty much the same thing most days. Normally that’s just the making of art – Frank Auerbach is famous for going to the studio every day of every year. Sometimes the output is also obsessive, when it tends to be a way of recording and meditating on the passage of time: the two obvious examples are On Kawara’s ongoing litany of date paintings, and Roman Opulka’s spending much of 1965 to his death in 2011 painting the numbers from 1 – 5607249. Those projects both incorporate time’s passage: the calendar moves on, the numbers get bigger. Opulka also increased the proportion of white in each canvas, and had hoped to reach an all-white 7777777. The German Peter Dreher (born 1932) is different, even though he’s been painting the same empty glass tumbler in the same conditions on a near-daily basis since 1974. There are 5,000 so far, and a sample of 144 (along with other work) can be seen at the Milton Keynes Gallery to 24 November. His USP is more a strategy of non-development. The subject is just the impulse for the activity, which Dreher considers to be exercises in abstract mark-making, albeit they always turn out to depict his glass. Hence the Zen title for the whole series ‘Every Day is a Good Day’, and hence Dreher’s statement that he ‘wouldn’t be all that upset if they were to disappear.’ Turns out he isn’t obsessive at all.
Peter Dreher: from ‘Every Day is a Good Day’ 1974-2013
Most days art critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in Surrey. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?