Artist statement

I’ve always been a painter, right back to my early teenage years. Paint is like an addiction; its tactile quality, the smell and the feel. Forty years later, I still feel obsessed. And painting has been good to me; a career that has sustained me. I enjoy interacting with people and it has also provided opportunities to travel.

As a landscape painter, I don’t set out to photographically record nature. My approach is to create a version of a nature that can be believable, as if was solely painted from natural surroundings. The subject is of less consequence than the simple act of applying paint; my paintings are rarely literal interpretations of a scene. Although my current work starts plein air, generally in a natural setting, the paintings will often evolve and include a composite of several locations; perhaps the foreground from one location and the background from another. In larger studio works, these locations can be hundreds of kilometres apart. I also enjoy the challenge of working with different mediums of paint and sometimes find it stimulating to combine mediums within a painting. Painting in watercolours demands a different, almost opposite technique to painting in oils. With watercolour, your lights are very precious and the opportunity for reworking washes is limited.

I approach painting so it is both stimulating and challenging. As long as the shapes, colours and tones within the picture plane harmonise, I feel energised. And my obsession can continue.

Herman Pekel

about the artist

Born in Melbourne in 1956 of Dutch parents, Herman was 17 when he held his first solo exhibition in Melbourne: it was a sell-out success.

He spent three years studying and painting in Amsterdam and London, where he encountered the works of Constable, Turner and Rembrandt. These impressed him and influenced his own work. On returning to Melbourne in 1982 he began studying for his fine arts degree at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Dale Hickey, Jeff Makin and Clifton Pugh are just a few of the contemporary artists under whom Herman studied and who were instrumental in cultivating his appreciation of contemporary art, as well as experimentation with abstract impressionism.

His tonal works, in oil and watercolour, range from city and landscapes to café and bar interiors to dynamic industrial scenery. They all demonstrate the very best of contemporary impressionism.

Herman is a multi-awarded painter: a three-time winner of the coveted Camberwell Gold Medal Art Prize and a winner of the prestigious Alice Bale Award in 1989 and 1993.

His works are featured in several books: ‘Australian Impressionist and Realist Artists’, compiled by Tom Roberts and which features Australian artists, ‘120 Years of Watercolours’ by the Australian Realist Artists, ‘Artists and Galleries of Australia and New Zealand’ by Max Germaine, and ‘Profile on Contemporary Watercolours’.

He is a painter of immense talent and insight, and continues to actively exhibit across Australia and internationally. Herman is represented in Artbank, Castlemaine Regional Gallery, Grafton Regional Gallery, Bathurst Regional Gallery plus public and private collections in Australia and overseas.