Featuring a series of skyscapes painted during Dreher's visitation to the same area of the Black Forest during the month of September in 1976, the works epitomize Dreher's dedication to his medium and methodology through the lens of nature.
Dreher's practice is one based on repetition and revisitation, a dedication to selected and specific subject matter and a devotion to the general act of rendering such forms, unveiling nuances and variations in the viewer's perception. Perhaps most recognized for his series 'Tag um Tag guter Tag,' in which he painted the same empty glass for over forty years, Dreher's work inhabits the terrain between observation and documentation, zen in its structure and unyielding in its desire for control. It is testament to his belief that every act of seeing, so deeply embedded with our own experiences, results in a new encounter each time with the same object, one that defies any expectation of objectivity such control might imply.
Yet here, Dreher's focus is on the sky, a subject which itself evades control and repetition in every sense: its inability to be witnessed in entirety, its shifting colors, form, and patterns which evade determinate definition. Dreher's realism is juxtaposed with our knowledge that his rendering of reality is a memory, a step behind-the clouds have moved, the light has transformed, or disappeared by the time Dreher has captured it; instead his brushstrokes speak to impermanence and the unknown: the fluid nature of memory and the vacillating border of knowing and seeing, recalling and perceiving. It is realism rooted not in a desire to create a photographic replica, but in a certain truthfulness.
It is a truthfulness that extends to the painter and his commitment to being deeply present: Dreher returns to the same forest, the same sky, the same glass- whether still-life or landscape, his paintings are the embodiment of experience. It is a truthfulness that is not based on impartiality, but on the viewer's presence: the object's existence necessitates the viewer's gaze, always standing in relation to its witness.
It is difficult to circumvent allusions grounded in historicity: Dreher's studies of the sky and its infinite states conjure references to Romanticism and The Hudson River School in their content and exaltation of unadulterated nature. But Dreher's practice always returns to the practice of painting itself, which is for Dreher the most deserving subject of adulation. The mutable skyscapes meld with a proclivity toward both totality and exactitude without calculation, as if with each painting, Dreher works not toward an ideal, but a moment worth immortalizing only so as to enable the act of painting.