Low Tide at the Leetown Reservoir
June 4 – July 16, 2022
Gallery Two
  • Opening Reception
    Saturday June 4, 2022 / 6 – 8pm

Exhibition Text

ANDREW RAFACZ is pleased to present Low Tide at the Leetown Reservoir, a solo exhibition of drawings and wood carvings by Josh Dihle in Gallery Two. The exhibition opens Saturday, June 4th and continues through Saturday, July 16, 2022. This is the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, and his first in which drawings are shown alongside completed carvings.

Low Tide at the Leetown Reservoir comprises fifty drawings selected from Dihle’s decades-long engagement with works on paper. The group of drawings in this exhibition started in 2015 at his mother’s home in Leetown, West Virginia. Numbering now at over 200 drawings, each work is graphite pencil on twelve-inch by nine-inch paper. The drawings combine observational rendering with imagination and improvisation. Mid-process, Dihle swaps the pith helmet of a nineteenth century naturalist with the beret of a Surrealist lost in an automatic drawing. The resulting works give form to a particularized vocabulary of plants, animals, vehicles, bathers, and burrowers, suggesting dreamlike narratives without completely giving over to symbolism. The interweaving of landscapes and bodies in Dihle’s layered images lends an insubstantial quality to the proceedings, giving the impression that no one part of the farce has priority over another. Rather, each drawing is the result of Dihle’s repeated engagement with a fixed set of variables that yields unpredictable outcomes. These works speak to the indeterminacy of inner vision and how it is manifest in the act of drawing.

Dihle’s intimately scaled walnut carvings of fish and objects are simultaneously jewellike and densely embellished, while nodding to the handicraft of folk art and woodworking. For him, they are the necessary extension of the drawings, concretions of ideas and compositions that first appear on paper. When something in a drawing proves mysterious enough to be further developed, he commits it to wood. As a self-taught carver, Dihle’s approach is straightforward: he uses small handheld tools to find the form in the wood, while returning to the immediacy of the drawing process to limn the details and features on the surface. Once the form is delineated, he adds to it with embedded found objects and areas of colored pencil. As in his drawings, Dihle layers one image with another, heaping form atop form, pressing bodies into space and space back over bodies. The result is a delirious concatenation of object-subject and figure-ground relationships.

JOSH DIHLE (American, b. 1984) lives and works in Chicago, IL. He received his MFA in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012 and a BA from Middlebury College in 2007. He has had solo exhibitions at M+B (Los Angeles, CA), ANDREW RAFACZ (Chicago, IL), 4th Ward Project Space (Chicago, IL), McAninch Arts Center (Chicago, IL) and Valerie Carberry Gallery (Chicago, IL). Recent group exhibitions include MASSIMODECARLO Vspace (Milan, Italy), Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago, IL), Rover (Chicago, IL), Elmhurst Art Museum (Elmhurst, IL), Essex Flowers (New York, NY), Ruschman (Mexico City, Mexico) and Annarumma Gallery (Naples, Italy). Dihle has participated in residencies including Catwalk Institute (Catskill, New York), Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT) and the Ox-Bow Summer Arts Faculty Residency (Napa, CA). In 2021, he was the artist-in-residence at Kunstmeile Krems (Austria). His work is included in numerous private and public collections. This is his third solo exhibition with the gallery.