GERMAN artist Peter Dittmar had been painting for some 40 years when four years ago, he first tried his hand at installations in Sydney. The 1996 installation of sand calligraphy was inevitably destroyed at the end of the show, but the process appealed to Dittmar as a Buddhist.
He decided to explore the practice of installation in a way that would incorporate his paintings;
These are the strips used by Dittmar to created his installations in the Singapore show, for instance, one curved wall is covered by 23 strips. They are spaced apart to create a rhythm with the wall space in between, and are linked by a loose oval form drawn across the strips.
Dittmar started painting at age 14 in Munich, went on to teach art for about 13 years and eventually had his first solo only at age 33. However, Dittmar has been living off his art for some 18 years; there is no money pressure now, he concedes with a grin.
With his painting doing so well, why did he decide to move into installation? "No artist can be unaffected by what is happening in the art world around him," replies Dittmar.
he came up with the concept of "art strips", currently on show in Singapore. The strips are created by mounting large sheets of handmade paper on plywood with acrylic bookbinding glue: painting them with free-flowing, abstract calligraphic forms; texturing them with wave forms, like some raked Zen garden. Finally cutting them into uniform strips (2.15 x 13 cm).
Coming across cuting-edge installation in his travels, "I asked myself if installation offered a possibility of expression. Art is about asking "Who am I ?', and "What can I present to the world?" "The possibilities of creating something for public spaces appealed to me, as a way of creating for more people. The strips have the capacity for going into bigger spaces," says the artist who has been asked to create five walls representing the five continent during the Olympic Games in Sydney this year.
The artist does not see his installation as site-specific. On the contrary, the beauty of the installation, he feels, is that it is so flexible, it can be recreated anywhere.