Thursday, June 19, 2008

Peter von Tiesenhausen

Peter is a 5th cousin of mine - he and his family are the closest relatives I have outside of Europe on my father's side of the family.

My father Axel von Schulmann was Peter's god father. I remember as a kid going on VERY long car trips up to Demmit Alberta to visit the Tiesenhausen's My father also bought Peter his first art supplies - totally out of character for my father to hit a present so correctly and so I think it was my mother than did the buying.

The Tiesenhausen's homesteaded in the Peace in the early 1960s. The land and climate reminds me a lot of the place where our families are from - Estonia.

I can remember the day that I was struck still by the sight of Peter's art. It was about 11 or 12 years ago and I saw an image of his ship in his hayfield. The thoughts and ideas that came into my head when I saw it were almost too numerous to name.

First off all, how cool to build a ship shape out of aspen branches in the middle of field?

Second, the hayfield is still used and the mower goes around the art - The Art Has Left the Building!

Third, I am captivated by the concepts of land, language, people and the environment and how it all comes together. I can see how much I have become disconnected from the land and the language of land since I left Lillooet for Victoria four years ago. Taking art out onto the land is brilliant.

Fourth, Canada is a big empty natural landscape where the forces of nature over come human creations. In the cities we do not see this, but such a tiny piece of Canada is located where the majority of the people live. Most of this land still has natural forces

Fifth - the very act of decay on the creation. His art on the land does not last, it decays, it can not last, it is consumed by the natural world around it. So much art is about preserving a single momentary vision forever. Keeping a painting static and the same generations after the artist has died.

Sixth - Peter's art is dynamic and changing, it never sits still.

Seventh - it is fun and unpretentious

Eighth - the themes are easy to understand but so complex that you could spend a lifetime thinking about it.

After seeing that one work I have been fascinated to see all the other things he has been doing. The complete brilliance of what he does leaves me in awe of the visions that live within his head.

A quote from Peter

"Having things go wrong always happens for a reason," he says, "whether it is the truck breaking down in the middle of nowhere or a painting not working out. If I'm open to the chaos that follows, the right path presents itself. Call it fate, karma, whatever – but something better than I could ever have imagined happens when my initial plan falls apart."

I showed some of his art to my middle son today and he fell in love with it. Ben has a skill with drawing that I would like to encourage. I had hoped showing him some inspired genius in art would open his eyes - my fear was that he would be too young to understand it.

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