I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOU AND I NEVER WILL
January 15-April 29, 2012
Iowa artist Timothy Wehrle eschewed artistic training, believing that it would compromise a pure and bountiful vision. His densely patterned scenes evoke illuminated manuscripts, Persian miniatures, comic books, sacred mandalas, and the kaleidoscopic drawings of Swiss artist Adolph Wölfli¾yet they remain uniquely his own.
Wehrle’s largest solo exhibition to date, curated by Leslie Umberger, includes 35 of his most powerful works. Among these is a series of ten drawings recently acquired by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center: The Believable Households (2010). Herein, the artist peels back roofs and walls to peek in on private realms. Exploring the hierarchies, dynamics, realities, and pitfalls common to humans of all walks, Wehrle conveys a complex vision of humanity, posing some tough questions about civilized existence.
Writer Randall Morris has observed, “(Wehrle’s) drawings poetically unwrap the concept of a Cold War of the soul in a new world where the artist-citizen is constantly acted upon by encroaching depersonalization but is able to resist and ultimately strike back utilizing dreams, visions, and art making.”
Wehrle’s complex images distill moments of experience like pages of a diary. Layered, flexible imagery metaphorically mirrors experience and memory, subjectivity and interpretation. The artist, often cast as the central figure, relentlessly explores the evolving self, dwelling on existential themes including freedom and responsibility, partnership and selfhood, devotion and detachment, intimacy and alienation.
Above: Timothy Wehrle, Believable Households, 2010; colored pencil and graphite on paper; 18 x 15 in.; John Michael Kohler Arts Center Collection.