January 5 – February 17, 2024
Figuring It Out
The Art Incubator Gallery
Opening Reception: Friday January 5th, 7 -10 pm
There is no other subject that commands more attention from artists than the human figure. The human form has been a predominant theme in visual art from around 30,000 years ago and has inspired artists for centuries. It can be extremely intimate or broadly universal and it is central to how we understand aspects of identity such as gender, sexuality, and race. Figurative art is still hugely popular within the contemporary art sphere, with several figurative exhibitions still showing around the globe today. One of the main reasons behind this recent resurgence of the exhibitions of figurative art is that after nearly two years of isolation, people want to see people.
Susan Diebel is a seasoned Edmonton-based visual artist, educator, and art activist. Diebel has been renowned for her skillful ability to render human body in a realistic way and has an uncanny ability to portray the likeness of her sitters in her ethereal and atmospheric watercolours.
The exhibition Figuring It Out features a mini survey of the artist’s earlier and most recent figurative works in a suite of exquisitely executed watercolours. Each work in the exhibition has been completed in a single sitting with the live model. Over the years, Susan Diebel has explored various media and currently works primarily in watercolour and graphite. Her current art style is unique, balancing representational figurative drawing with a moody and muted colour palette, creating powerful yet poignant aesthetic within every piece. She is best known for her figurative drawings and watercolours, focusing on the exquisite strength and alluring complexity of human form through saturated colour, flattened space, and texture. Her technical drawing and painting skills, her eye for capturing an expression that portrays an intimate story, and her material experimentation are combined with a dynamic harmony between emotion and design. Susan is fascinated with moments of human connection and that fascination manifests itself in her work through cleverly posed subjects, use of colour and illusionary texture amid abstracted space. The figures in her watercolours are always in contemplative poses. They conceal and reveal the environment, dissecting it through perspective, gesture, and form.
The artist regards drawing and painting figuratively from life models as a highly demanding challenge and yet the most beloved and rewarding collaborative experience. As Susan says, “To me, the model is undeniably a piece of the creative puzzle. It is their ‘presence’ that informs the outcome.”
You are invited to immerse yourself in the beauty, complexity, and profound nature of the human form, exploring the depths of human emotions and the enduring power of figurative art.
Susan Diebel was born in Germany and immigrated to Canada with her family as a young child. She was raised and schooled in Edmonton. Later, she continued her academic education at the University of Alberta in Edmonton where she received her Bachelor’s degrees in Arts (Art and Anthropology) in 1977, Education (Secondary Art) in 1979, followed by her Master’s degree in Library Science in 1987. Between 1979 and 2001 she taught at several public schools in Edmonton. Susan continued to take art classes through the University of Alberta’s Department of Extension and through the Harcourt House’s drop-in drawing classes. For the past 20 years, Susan has been one of the principal Monitors for Harcourt House’s Art Drawing Classes with the Live Model. She has been a recipient of several scholarships, awards, and commendations for her art and community services.
Top Image: Striped Cushion (detail): 2022, graphite and watercolour on paper
Photo courtesy of the artist