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Paul Dibble The Geometric Figures 20 Years


published by Dibble Art Company isbn 978-0-473-38928-4 photography Graeme Brown, Vision Media Manawatu, unless otherwise stated. design direction Hayden Doughty text Dibble Art Company printing by Graeme Brazier Š 2017. All text and images copyright the artist. All rights reserved.

This publication is copyright.

Except for the purpose of fair review, no part may be stored or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including recording or storage in any information retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. No reproduction may be made, whether by photocopying or other means, unless a license has been obtained from the publisher or its agent.


They have been a background beat in his artistic practice since the late 1990s when the first of Paul Dibble’s series that was loosely termed The Hard Geometrics was made. While Dibble has diverted to other studies this series has persisted; sometimes assuming centre stage, sometimes in unrelated solitude against the main task. Perhaps the enduring attraction of this series, which has extended over 20 years, is the purer form of aesthetic it presents – Dibble able to flex his artistic muscles in working with proportion and balance. The geometrics are a series of

Although there were earlier pre-

Simple holes cut out indicate breasts.

works that are figurative in content with

liminaries the first exhibition of these

A subtle curve marks a shoulder or hip,

the human form reduced to simple geo-

works was in 1998 in an exhibition titled

a delicate protruding tummy or a slight

metric shapes. The style references the

“Revisiting Formalism: From the Workshop”.

indent forms a shoulder blade. There is

constructionists from the 20s and 30s –

Then they seemed to be a decisive turn

the careful use of angles – a leg that might

artists like Archipenko, Zadkine and Arp –

from the more narrative works which

be pulled just back behind another to

but the Dibble geometrics tend to have an

were being made. These new pieces had

emphasise a point of balance. The use of

elegant clean line, the homage in the start

their own language of mass and movement,

this componentry does lend them a sense

frame only and they have become imbibed

harmonies of curves and forms, negative

of the architectural, the pieces puzzled

with their own stylistic characteristics.

spaces that asserted their own presence;

together into a greater form. Yet they

all fine-tuned to perfect balance. The more

also seem to have a quality that implies

simple the shapes the more sophistication

a fragility, many with added props, some

is produced. Cones replace legs, and spheres become substitutes for heads.


cleverly mirroring, or counterbalancing

array of possibilities. If looked at in a time

era references these former experiments.

other square limbs in the upper body,

sequence you can sense a shift, a more

But it is hard not to also believe in worlds

a sense of delicacy; that the work is only

confident hand, an elegant streamlining-

of change that solid compositional shapes

just managing to stand upright.

making the forms more slender, a change

present an appeal.

What is most alluring about these

in proportions that accompanies a dis-

In 2016 a unique opportunity present-

reductions is that their simplicity confers

tinctive time slot in history. So, looking

ed itself where a series of these figures

a more refined sense of gesture, and with

back, the works from the 90s appear

could be assembled together. The Stuart

this exudes a strong emotional charge.

now as near caricature. A series in 2008

Residence Halls Council, a group strongly

The whittling of a limb and softened

seemed to possess a lighter quality, one

associated with the University of Otago

shoulders give a work such as Quiet Space,

artwork playfully suggestive of the famous

in Dunedin, for their 75th anniversary

2016 that sense of still vulnerability and

Marilyn Monroe pose of skirt being blown

commissioned a large work to fit within

solitude. Little Sister, 2015 and her near

up by the wind from a vent the actress

the Otago campus. The work was installed

relation Holding the Movement, 2015

suggestively leans above. By 2014 they

at the pedestrian access of Castle and

have a sense of the cheerful slightly spoilt

are sleek and cooler. Some studies have

Union streets where hundreds travel daily,

youngest daughter jumping tip toe. In The

been reworked over time, a similar stance

students traversing as they shift from

Second Daughter, 1999 she is a pouting

yet the finish and slight variations in sizing

one class to another. The bronze figures,

adolescent, hip flirtatiously swung and

and angles lending the works a different

enlarged and abstracted re-enactments

arms crossed as defiant temptress. Into

atmosphere.

of the people sharing the crossroad, are

a Southerly, 2015 has the figure pushing

The exaggerated poses convey

distributed in a random configuration that

against a gale, striving to make headway

an array of suggestions. In some they

the walkers might assume and with the

with the second leg swung back to further

stand straight and tall as if an assert-

same variations in posture and gesture.

accentuate the movement forward.

ive guardian protectively overlooking a

Their placement forces those passing by

Additional smoothing of these forms

plot of homeland (like The Girl Stands

to interact with the works while they

(reducing the reductions), turning them

Tall, 2014). Another (The Balanced

navigate around them, becoming part of the artwork themselves, the figures no

into more rounded shapes, moving away

Girl, 2015) stands like a nervous school

from the human form into abstraction

girl on the first day of term. Some are

longer statuary but an installation that

created another body of works, starting

haughty; some luxuriously stretch their

inclusively welcomes people in.

around 2004 and continuing for several

arms above their head as if revelling in a

Uniting the figures over the area

years. Their source was one particular

sunny day, some have a sensual exposed

is a large relief cross with a lighting strip

study, Long Horizon, 1999 based loosely

naked quality. All achieve a cool surreal

mounted into the ground, marking the

on a woman reclining at a beach, the long

elegance, strangely, along with the strong

intersection with a giant “X” and also

horizontal line of a leg echoing the line of

sense of humanity and gesture.

evoking the St Andrew’s Cross of Scotland.

a distant ocean. Now the legs were pulled

Looking at the works as a whole,

The surface of the panels is embellished

upward and the torso curled around so the

different series springing up, reforming

with modelling – icons of Otago (with the

forms became round, and in semi-relief

and refining, gives thoughts to the spring-

requisite Railway Building represented),

the profiles puffed out. In contrast to the

board or catalyst for the sculptures. The

the area’s flora and fauna, University mottos – giving scope for discovery when

older series they were playfully called The

period in which the Dibble geometrics

Soft Geometrics. These were a new area

have been made could be said to have

moving across the area. But it is the figures

and a multiple of models were made, a

parallel in social environment with the

towering across the campus grounds that

great many scaled up into large works,

constructionists even though they are

give the artwork presence, assemblages

many mounted on semi curved stands.

nearly a hundred years apart. There

of mathematical forms but allegories of

The original figures then assumed

the upheaval was from the industrial

human-ness.

the description Hard Geometrics and

revolution – fantastical new machines, job

it became a persistent thread, with its

losses, an alteration of the landscape – a different world that artists reacted to by creating new artworks never seen before. Dibble as part of a new technological


Index

all works are made in cast bronze unless otherwise stated

cover image

Detail of Quiet Space, 2016

2.12m x 380mm x 300mm inside cover image

Reclining Figure model, 1999 210mm x 410mm x 70mm

Rising Figure model, 1999

The artist in the studio with works in progress

250mm x 450mm x 120mm

page 4

Holding the Balance, 2002

Paul Dibble, 2017

page 5

The Big Screen model, 1997

page 9

2.7m x 800mm x 800mm page 10 {From left to right & top to bottom}

300mm x 100mm x 100mm

Artist drawing circa 2000

page 6

Geometric Figure 6 model, 2008

Invitation for an exhibition at Gow Langsford Gallery in 1998. The artwork featured on the invitation is Snapshot, 1998 2.5m x 800mm x 800mm page 7 & 8 {Working across

rows & left to right} first row

715mm x 160mm x 160mm

The Girl Stands Tall, 2014 2.03m x 335mm x 330mm page 15

Kouras Figure, 2009 640mm x 160mm x 160mm page 16 {From left to right}

Moving Forwards, Looking Backwards, 2000 2.28m x 750mm x 710mm

The Second Daughter, 1999 2.2m x 750mm x 740mm page 17

Moving Forwards, Looking Back, 2000

Place, 1999

detail

2.25m x 550mm x 540mm

page 18

Another View, Another Border model, 1999 250mm x 200mm x 200mm

The Second Daughter, 1999 detail

page 19 {From left to right

1.2m x 1.1m x 400mm

Geometric Figure 7 model, 2008

Long Horizon second study, 2000

700mm x 160mm x 280mm

580mm x 170mm x 170mm

Artist drawing circa 1998

Looking Ahead, 2015

Long Horizon medium, 1999

210mm x 420mm x 70mm

Reclining Figure, 2000 1.9m x 1.4m x 400mm

Long Horizon study, 2016 280mm x 480mm x 110mm second row

Reclining Figure model, 1999 210mm x 480mm x 70mm

Long Horizon, 1999 2.1m x 2.4m x 500mm

Long Horizon, 2001 stainless steel, 230mm x 400mm x 130mm

Reclining Figure, 2000 1.9m x 1.2m x 400mm third row

Long Horizon, 1999 2.1m x 2.4m x 500mm

Long Horizon model, 1999 240mm x 420mm x 70mm

Long Horizon, 2008 2.5m x 3.3m x 500mm

bottom row {Left to right}

Body Architecture study 2, 2000

A Quiet Time Second Study, 2014 520mm x 200mm x 180mm

The Model 1, 1999

Figure of Ease, 2014

600mm x 200mm x 200mm

Body Architecture study 1, 1999 750mm x 200mm x 200mm page 11 & 12 {From left to right}

Geometric Figure 2 model, 2008

720mm x 250mm x 160mm

Geometric Figure 4 model, 2008 640mm x 160mm x 160mm

Geometric Figure 1 model, 2008 700mm x 300mm x 160mm

530mm x 170mm x 170mm page 20

Installation view of the models at the exhibition “The Geometric Figure” at Milford House, Dunedin in 2015. image by Glenn Frei. The front model is Little Sister, 2014 590mm x 170mm x 170mm

2.06m x 350mm x 350mm 2.3m x 350mm x 350mm page 14 {From left to right}

640mm x 360mm x 130mm

Figure Observing, 2014

Long Horizon, 1999

2m x 370mm x 370mm

Resolute, 2016 2.4m x 840mm x 840mm

Figure of Ease, 2016 2.12m x 290mm x 400mm

Quiet Space, 2016 2.12m x 380mm x 300mm page 29 {From left to right}

The Long View, 2016 2.4m x 740mm x 740mm

A Good Outlook, 2016 2.2m x 720mm x 720mm page 30

Resolute, 2016 2.4m x 840mm x 840mm page 31

The Pose, 2016 detail page 32

Figure of Ease, 2016 detail page 33 & 34 {From left to right}

Putting Your Best Foot Forward, 2015 2.7m x 800mm x 800mm

Quiet Space, 2016 2.12m x 380mm x 300mm

Figure of Ease, 2016 2.12m x 290mm x 400mm

The Pose, 2016 2.03m x 410mm x 275mm

A Good Outlook, 2016

page 21 shows work in progress before patination, page 22

page 23 & 24 Installation views of the exhibition “The Geometric Figure” at Milford House, Dunedin in 2015. images by Glenn Frei.

Geometric Figure 2, 2001

2.03m x 410mm x 275mm

2.7m x 800mm x 800mm

Putting Your Best Foot Forward, 2015

page 13 {From left to right}

240mm x 410mm x 70mm

page 27 & 28 {From left to right}

The Pose, 2016

The Long View, 2016

shows the artwork complete. Both are photographed in the artist’s studio.

680mm x 160mm x 160mm

510mm x 135mm x 135mm

page 21 & 22

Geometric Figure 3 model, 2008

Geometric Figure 1, 2001

fourth row

640mm x 140mm x 140mm

610mm x 200mm x 200mm

Long Horizon third study, 2000

Long Horizon model, 2001

& top to bottom}

Into a Head Wind, 2014

page 26

The Long View model, 2016

page 25

The Calm, 2015

2.4m x 740mm x 740mm 2.2m x 720mm x 720mm page 35 to 42

Pathways, 2016, figures of a

height of around 3.2 metres tall, ground cross panelling with LED lighting 14 metres across. Commissioned by The Stuart Residence Halls Council for the University of Otago. Images show the artwork on site (image by Peter Shelton), details of two of the figures and at night (images by Sharron Bennett).

2.15m x 490mm x 400mm

2.1m x 2.4m x 500mm

Paul Dibble - biography Born in Waitakaruru, near Thames, from 1963-7 Dibble studied at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland graduating with a BFA Honours in Sculpture. Paul’s first solo exhibition was in 1971 at the Barry Lett Gallery, Auckland. He has since maintained a consistent exhibition schedule in NZ and overseas. In 2006, in collaboration with Athfield Architects he completed a large New Zealand memorial sited at Hyde Park Corner in London. This work was opened on Armistice Day, with a dedication attended by the Prime Minister Helen Clark, Tony Blair the Prime Minister of Britain and the Queen and many members of the royal family. He was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004 and an Honorary Doctorate, the first in the visual arts, from Massey University in 2007.


Paul Dibble The Geometric Figures: 20 Years