By Kate Hall
Published in Art*i*facts Magazine Winter Issue 2015
Sets, their unions and intersections all conjure up frustrating lessons from school days past. Rays, lines and segments are close cousins to algebra, the dreaded mathematical study that is thought to have little use outside of academia. Lessons are learned for a time and disregarded for life. Not so with the geometric artist, Helge Duemmel.
Duemmel’s recently won Best of Show for his geometric abstract piece “Europa Lilies” at the current exhibit featured at the Lakeland Center through February. Being abstract in nature, each member of the audience is free to interpret the painting with their own unique perspective. I am no different. I look at the organic shapes and try to discern a flora theme, as the name implies. Graceful, devoid of brush strokes, transparencies and opacities are weaved throughout. Art is a method of communication. The question is, what is the artist trying to say?
The inspiration for the creation of Duemmel’s Europa Lilies is unexpected to say the least. When asked about his piece, Duemmel offers, “it is part of my new series of ‘Blooming Moons.’ This series focuses on using organic shapes to capture extra-terrestrial landscapes.’” He went on to describe the moons of our solar system as influential and offered a sneaking insight to his upcoming work will reflect “global warming and Mother Earth’s face of tears.”
Being a German immigrant, Duemmel shares with me a history of uncertainty and repression. He was inspired as a child by the illustrations of Grimm’s fairytales. He shares, “there was no time for art in my childhood. It was about survival and relocation.” After serving in the German Navy, Duemmel relocated to the United States in the 70’s. He had studied art at Clark University, but like so many artists, needed the reliable income that he found as a teacher of Geometry. While teaching art, he began to dabble in art, mostly in watercolors and with a sense of realism, which is quite removed from his style today. In truth, Duemmel has been keeping geometry alive in his art works.
Duemmel began his progression towards hardline abstract art when he was introduced to silk screen printing by a friend and fellow artist. He describes it as, “very, very nitpicky! Right up my alley.” This explanation makes sense because one of the self-imposed goal of his works, “I try to eliminate all evidence of brush strokes.” He first began to receive acceptance and approval for his work in SoHo in the 80’s. Duemmel sets a high standard for himself. “It is most rewarding when I have a flawless piece, well-done and near perfection.” He goes on to say that he remains detached from his works and they are not difficult for him to part with. Apparently this serves him well, as most of his past works have sold in shows related to his teaching career, and in the galleries in Massachusetts where he displayed his work for years.
A resident of Lakeland for the past 13years, Duemmel continues to find new avenues for his art. Being primarily encouraged by his wife, Linda, who he jokes about being his agent, he says, “I can now focus on art in my retirement.” For more information on this other worldly artist, please visit his website at www.helgeduemmel.com or visit his current exhibit at The Lakeland Center.