Since 1974, Peter Dreher has produced a seemingly simple, yet complex body of work by faithfully painting more than 5,000 depictions of an empty drinking glass. The German series title Tag um Tag guter Tag (Day by Day, Good Day) comes from a translation of the Zen expression “Every day is a good day.” Dreher’s dedicated, monk-like studio routine follows a similarly optimistic renewal as he diligently reconsiders the same object, day after day and year after year. With extraordinary patience, discipline, and curiosity he never paints from memory; each engagement with the transparent glass and its surrounding environment constitutes a unique experience. He explains, “I didn’t plan to do it this way. I always knew that I would call it a day when the motivation stopped. It wasn’t a self-imposed compulsion, rather the joy surrounding the object.”
Dreher’s enduring investigation of an ordinary object is a testament to his unwavering belief in the acts of perception and painting. Atmospheric reflections in the transparent glass vary from canvas to canvas, according to the time of day and type of lighting. The series is divided into painting done during the day and at night; the two settings are distinctly visible through delicately painted details of the studio window and a lamp used in the evening. The subtle permutations and surprising diversity within Dreher’s paintings distinguish his long-term project.