Peter Lang - Rettungshaus

Peter Lang

and the Northern Lights

Toward the aurora borealis - with this mission, Peter Lang will inevitably be drawn to Iceland, the land of longing for many travelers, in the winter of 2018/19. Since 2000 alone, the number of travelers to Iceland has increased fivefold and in 2017 was just over 2.2 million. The landscape, rich in natural wonders, is characterized by volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, lakes and plateaus. To experience these is the motivation of every Iceland traveler.

For Peter Lang it is the second Iceland painting trip. He first worked on the Snæfellsnes peninsula in 2012/13 for a total of 18 months. At that time he traveled with the painting container, which was set up in an exposed place directly by the sea. Here in Iceland, Peter Lang found inspiration from nature, constant weather changes and the diffuse light he so loved. An extensive series of works with his typical abstracted landscapes in fine lineaments of highly differentiated color nuances was created.  He has also established good friendships with the residents of Hellisandur during this time.

In the summer of 2018, Peter Lang decides to travel to Iceland one more time: he is interested in realizing the aurora borealis in a pictorial way. Within a very short time, he organizes the stay from transportation to accommodation. Upon request, the municipality of Hellisandur provides him with the vacant rescue house with a view of the glacier and the sea as a studio house for several months. All inventory, all painting utensils, canvases, papers and even an etching press he shipped by container to Iceland. On site he should lack nothing, he wants to devote himself undisturbed to the work. He and his wife Gabi arrive in Hellisandur in September 2018. However, before the actual work can begin, windows brought along for the view of the sea are installed in the rescue house.

Winter and the dark time are coming soon and with them the nature observations under the open sky and the actual studio work.  The aurora borealis in its intangibility and all its complexity, a colorfulness from green, red, violet to blue and its evenly like radiating arcs, surfaces and bands, the pulsating surfaces and arcs, the corona and the zenith-directed pulsating rays, inspired Peter Lang to new pictorial discoveries and to a rediscovery of etching.

There are 33 etchings, which in their entirety testify to the fact that here works a master of etching, who has mastered the entire repertoire of techniques and procedures. Peter Lang achieves strongly formed plasticity and nuanced light and shadow effects in mezzotint and finely drawn lines in aquatint. Each individual sheet is fully composed, powerful and always new. His etchings are captivating in their pictorial realization of the natural phenomenon aurora borealis, they are calm to powerful, sometimes explosive in expression - everything is felt experience and testifies to the joy of the artist to work in this medium and to capture the incomparability of the moment.

Parallel to the etchings, Peter Lang works on canvases in various formats from 50 x 80 cm up to 5.70 x 200 cm, all formats are adapted to the return transport in the container. He creates his typical quiet landscape impressions, such as "Þú Breiði Fjörður" (50 x 230 cm) and "Við Eldborgarhraun" (80 x 120 cm) in finely contrasted color lines and enlarged fragments of nature observations, such as the clash of sky and sea in "Fjarlægðin Gerir Fjöllin Blá" (80 x 120 cm).

The painterly realization of the aurora borealis becomes compositionally challenging for him and demands new solutions: he captures steeply sloping light in strong vertical formats, as in "jósadýrð" (230 x 140 cm).  In "Óveðuri Aðsigi" (125 x 120 cm), "Ljósabönd" (120 x 190 cm) and "Solvindar Á Nætur Himni" (80 x 120 cm) the roughly worked out circular movements of the Aurora Borealis are subject to the vertical lines worked over them. In several smaller paintings, on the other hand, he pulls up fragments of the light phenomena and thus arrives at a rather calmly laid out horizontal pictorial structure, as in "Við Dönsum í NóttVid"(50 x 80 cm).


In one of his last major works on site, "Ljóslogar Í Náttmyrkri" (570 x 230), he opens up a whole new variety of stroke technique, using shorter lines set in sequence and seemingly moving. Each individual painting from this cycle is a masterpiece, a tour de force in itself, and an expression of the experience Peter Lang has gained with his painting method.   In addition, there are the Icelandic titles - they are created in close collaboration with his Icelandic friend Sigfus Almarsson. The latter sees the sensual meanings in the paintings and finds typically Icelandic terms and formulations. The titles emphasize the poetic in Peter Lang's pictures, they bring us closer to the Icelandic world with its sagas and myths and are an expression of his authentic approach. If we take a closer look at them, we quickly realize that they cannot be directly translated into German. They are somewhere "in between" just as "Niður" (570 x 200 cm) can mean a harmony and also tells something of beauty. They are also an expression of the mysticism that underlies his overall work. With the results of the painting trip Iceland 2018/ 19 Peter Lang lets us immerse ourselves in Icelandic nature and satisfies our longing for untouched landscape. It is this longing immanent in the picture that makes us as viewers enter and linger in his pictorial space again and again.

I am very pleased to be able to show the paintings and etchings of "Peter Lang and the Aurora Borealis" for the first time in two consecutive exhibitions in my gallery: Painting November 9 to January 14, 2020, graphics from January 16 to March 2, 2020. Together with my webmaster Marion Ehrl, I visited Peter Lang and his wife Gabi during your stay in Iceland and experienced a piece of everyday work with nature observations and studio work. Here they work with high concentration and perseverance. How Peter Lang's pictures correspond to the light conditions and moods on Iceland, I can since then even more empathize. I have great respect for his commitment to the work, the hardships and risks he is willing to accept and take. All of this is only possible because of the support of family, friends and the Icelandic community of Hellisandur. I thank everyone involved in this project and especially the Langs for their constructive cooperation.

                                                                       Fenna Wehlau

Peter Lang und das Polarlicht