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Feel so Near by Peter Beihl

Peter Beihl. Tresta / BixterThe forthcoming exhibition at Vaila Fine Art is of new works by Peter Biehl, a Danish artist intermittently residing in Tresta. This exhibition was postponed last year due to roadworks in the Street.

Peter Biehl’s immediately recognisable drawings of local wildlife will be familiar to the Shetland public. The drawings are extremely accessible and pleasing, effortless in appearance and endearingly decorative. The subjects of the images are all individual, not generic. They are all painstakingly observed and competently rendered portraits of flowers, birds, otters, rabbits, cattle, sheep and ponies, captured on a particular day in their habitat, selected for their personal appeal to the artist. It takes real effort to see how exactly the artist managed to convey anatomical complexity with such confident economy of touch. There are also three dramatic landscapes included in the show. Peter Biehl applies his craft as lightly as he carries his chronological advantage: he was born in Nazi occupied Denmark in 1941.

Peter Biehl’s father was Danish and his mother came from the Siberian city of Irkutsk. His maternal grandfather, a high-ranking officer in the Russian White Army, was killed in an ambush during the Revolution. This fact may not be strictly relevant to the exhibition, but it’s always interesting to know where adopted Shetlanders originally hail from. Peter trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Copenhagen, funding his studies by working at night as a taxi driver. He then worked as a college art teacher in Denmark, with two memorable years spent at Thule Air Base in far Northern Greenland. The Inuit culture held a lasting fascination, and so did the rugged beauty of Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Peter first discovered Shetland twenty years ago and even settled here for a period following his etirement. “Shetland with its perpetual poetical nonchalance has been an inevitable challenge to my art.”

Peter works outdoors. He carries his studio equipment with him and settles down to capture flora and fauna of the place while being ravaged by the elements but often also rewarded by the wild creatures gradually accepting his presence on their territory. The gallery received the following note from the artist:

“Mixed media - that means:
Derwent artist pencils
water based or oil based ( depending on weather )
300 gram acid free watercolour paper ( mostly )
CaranD'ache Neocolor 1 and 2 pencils and a box with
No photos - working directly in the nature, and that gives me a lot of problems in between ( weather conditions )”

All works are for sale and the exhibition continues until early July.