Essay excerpt by Debra Brehmer
What seems to make Viets’ work interesting and even exceptional is his combined vocabulary as engineer and artist. Viets mentioned he studied engineering not to work in the field but to enhance his art-making approach and technique.
The language of engineering explores dynamics of force, mass, acceleration, kinetic energy, elasticity and other physical properties. It is no coincidence that painting shares the same language. Every composition needs to deal with the tug and pull of shapes and opposing colors, the balancing of weights and forms, and the overall pull or energy of the entire surface.
Stylistically, Viets’ expressive handling of paint creates certain primitive qualities of representation, and he freely mixes media and technique. His work contains a philosophical underpinning where he consciously plays between the notion of order and chaos. Viets takes the viewer through a series of mechanical, schematic drawings where sculptures and other forms are dissected in the elegant language of science. He then gives us the extreme opposite approach in his paintings which substitute gestural and awkward combinations of color, texture and image to “disrupt” the logical viewing process presented in the schematic work.
Viets explores how these dynamics affect both the functionality of the form and its visual aspects. In looking at the analysis of movement in his drawings and then looking at a painting, Viets’ brushstrokes begin to read like small explosions radiating out from the form. The energy and force of the brush strokes becomes internally lively and not just decorative. The diagonal lines, shapes and volumes in his paintings also begin to seem more structural than whimsical. Matter of fact, if the paintings at first looked disordered at all, they can just as easily begin to look conscious, planned, constructed.
Now living in Brooklyn, New York, Viets holds two college degrees in mechanical engineering, as well as an art degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since moving back to Brooklyn this past summer (2007), Viets has been working in his studio full-time. A part of several solo and group shows in places like Brooklyn, London and Wisconsin, Viets has also been featured in several publications.
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Debra Brehmer is a writer and art historian who teaches part-time at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. She also co-publishes Milwaukee’s on-line art magazine, Susceptible to Images, and operates a gallery called Portrait Society.