Printmakers, sculptors, those who excel at drawing — all who practice the visual and plastic arts — are closely related in terms of temperament; and yet there are definite frontiers between each mindset, guarded by mysterious affinities.
Since the quality of the painted line has been his most abiding concern through three decades of strenuous effort, you could call him a drawing guy, rather than a painting guy. But that would miss the point. For a painter’s painter like Dibble, versed in the tensions of modernist work from Cezanne to DeKooning, the central activity of his art is to choreograph an ever more intense dance involving these two eternally incompatible partners.
The long stretch of art practice is something like dreaming. It takes place as much in the mind as in the studio, and time travel is commonplace. In recent large paintings on canvas, Dibble returns to themes and techniques that have preoccupied him since the age of 13, when he began a series of small line drawings. Those involved fantastic people and animals, mythic in feeling and rendered in a simple, uninflected graphic style reminiscent of Henri Matisse, or Jean Cocteau’s vivid sketches of Paris café life.
Flickering in front of these are lines that evoke a mythological scene. Toward the center a head is flung back along the broad body of a beast whose legs terminate in hoof- or foot-like appendages. Other faces hover, upside down or sideways, among marks that could represent landscape features. The total effect is like a vision of unknown constellations, mapped across swathes of a digitally cloned sky.
For the past 30-odd years, Dibble has earned a living as a professional roofer. Physically the artist has been shaped and tinted by long days in the sun and constant upper-body exercise. Glinting behind glasses, his blue eyes focus cautiously, and a white arc of T-shirt curves across his chest like freshly gessoed canvas.
Not as typical is Dibble’s longstanding devotion to esoteric meditative practices, which must also have a bearing on his fascination with visual repetition. In conversation about his work and motives he stresses issues of practice. He remarks, “I’m interested in what it shows me about myself. Immediately when I start to work I want to fall back on something known.” And he touches on the deeper reasons for his uncommon perseverance: “Mystery isn’t the problem, it’s the answer. How do you open to the feeling? I see there’s something that’s nourished in me (by certain approaches to the work) and I try to push. You have to be persistent; you don’t know what it is, but you’re preparing for something.”
[text written by Douglas Max Utter]