Dan Hepperle, who works in the seclusion of a village in the Eifel, paints in the main color white, which suggests tranquillity, concentration and timelessness.
He takes up the subject of light and points to something non-physical, metaphysical. With infinite variations he always creates new atmospheres and moods. Space is another theme, expressed as a line that enters the scene, playfully dancing, or austere and straightforward. His paintings seem alive and yet at rest, they seem to show little and yet a lot.
Since 1994 he is present at numerous exhibitions and fairs in Germany and the Netherlands. His works are in many private collections and in public ownership at banks and companies. Born in 1956, the artist is inspired by Zen and plays the shakuhachi flute.
In an interview Dan Hepperle said: ‘I remember a very special experience: I just came home after my school‘s art class and continued my painting. I fell into a timeless state, my perceptions changed, and I could sense very subtle energies, not just in me or in my painting, but also in the wider environment of the city. While painting, I keep trying to get into this state. Then I‘m sort of in the whole picture, totally present. As a way for me to do this, I found Zen meditation. Here I come to a silence, a timeless space, and I try to express that in my paintings.’
His Zen background led him to play the shakuhachi-flute and compose haiku-poems. Therefore inner silence is in the center of his art. Like some musicians make silence in their compositions audible, he makes it visible in his paintings. Another background for his paintings are the themes of light and space. Hence comes his choice of color, because light is reflected in its purest manifestation as white color and points to something non-physical, metaphysical. His paintings are always approximations of white, because his work is never entirely white.
Dan Hepperle paints in many layers of oil paint. He starts with a dark surface and continues by applying more and more white. An infinite amount of shades of white, each a touch different, just visible by the subtle difference to a another shade. The process of permanent editing is sensitive and visible. He experiments with overlapping and layering of color patches: In a subtle way he paints, draws, or even plasters over the layers already done, until a delicately modulated surface structure is formed. It is often carved into the layers, or even treated with a wire brush. He is inspired by nature and its processes: his works are reminiscent of weathering processes and atmospheric phenomena.
His works include various work groups. A group of more stringent work is characterized by mostly horizontal lines. The lines are never drawn with a ruler, but run amorphously. They remind one of characters, even calligraphy. All of this is done with a seemingly light touch. Accents are set with rectangular areas of color, giving support and guidance to the spectator. That’s how the artist impressively combines the picturesque and the graphically-linear.
Another group are wall objects, that consist of multiple layers of canvas and they remind us of books or calendars. The pieces of canvas, with drawn or painted signs on it, look like offcuts.This creates the overall effect to look at something old, used or even rotten. The objects have gone through a process, that reminds us of the variability of nature.
This technique with canvas patches continues in wall, box-shaped objects. These are wooden boxes that are lined with several layers of painted canvas. One thinks of patched jute sacks, obviously something has been repaired. His artworks get an additional patina, through ironing a wax layer on it. The use of offcuts is similar in its basic idea to the Arte Povera movement, which also worked originally only with ordinary, everyday materials and created spatial installations.
Another group are oil paintings and graphics where line formations are set significantly on a black or white base. By some of these works he was inspired by the texture of river rocks. These forms also remind the viewer of plants, animal and human figures and the patterns made by footpaths.
Every now and then he asks himself what he is doing, what his art is about. For him, having doubts belongs to the artistic process, and so the question can come: always just white?
The spectator must take some time to open up to the art of Dan Hepperle. You can start contemplating on the painting by looking at any point, perhaps in a prominent place, and suddenly one’s eyes wander over surfaces, and one sinks into these many layers and color shades of the painting, and sinks into its meditative atmosphere.