H e r m a n P e k e l
My painting is about light and atmosphere, probably from a Turner influence. Painting is something I feel compelled to do. Most of my work starts with nature and is completed from memory, being an intuitive response to what’s before me. The technique is akin to driving a motorcar, where one changes the gears subconsciously and focusses on the traffic. I rely very much on a passion for the materials that I use – i.e. the texture of rag paper, it’s feel and it’s smell, — and the subject to get me through the process. It is the process that is paramount for me. I would describe my art as lying somewhere between Impressionism and Surrealism.
Born to Dutch parents, Herman Pekel demonstrated an early interest in art that led him, in his youth, to study plein air painting with Roger Webber, Ernest Buckmaster and Lance McNeill. The raw experience of working (respectively) with them on location brought to the fore his passion for the ’freedom of spontaneity,’ as well as the rigour of speedily capturing the fleeting glow and illuminating impact of subtle shifts of light across the landscape.
He commenced a Fine Arts degree at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology under the tuition of Dale Hickey and Jeffrey Makin in 1981. Like many young artists of his generation, he flirted with Abstract Expressionism before returning to an Australian realist base with an emphasis on strong painterly technique.
Environmental issues are of paramount concern to Pekel and this veneration of nature is reflected in the landscape panoramas he paints. The scope of his pictorial world ranges from soft, cosy, draped interiors to dynamic industrial scenery, tempestuous Australian vistas and romantic European reminiscences.
Pekel’s numerous art awards include the the Alice Bale Watercolour Prize, 1989, 1993; the Camberwell Watercolour Prize (1989, 1993 and 1995); the Camberwell Travelling Scolarship (1989); the Waverley Prize (2003) and an Award of Excellence at the 2012 Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolour Biennial. In 1994, he was invited by the National Taiwan Art Institute to participate in a book and travelling exhibition of selected artists from Australia, the United States and Taiwan.
His work is held in public, corporate and private collections nationally and internationally, including Castlemaine Regional Gallery, Cadbury Schweppes, Wesley College, the City of Boorandarah and the Athenian Club.
A member of the Australian Watercolour Institute since 2009, Herman Pekel is also a member of The Twenty Melbourne Painters Society, the Australian Guild of Realist Artists and the Victorian Artists Society.