Peter von Tiesenhausen


“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” a guiding statement by Gandhi is how Peter von Tiesenhausen prefaces his approach to artmaking. After which the artist acknowledges that “every facet of our understanding and perceived reality is now thrown into question.” His body of work is a physical manifestation, by an innovative and inventive artist, of the challenge of accountability. His reevaluation becomes our reconsideration. Never one to shirk from the big question, von Tiesenhausen’s ambition is to illuminate processes of seeing, to offer steps in understanding, to dig deeper, reach higher, to push boundaries.

Much of von Tiesenhausen's art deals with transformation and transience. His deep involvement with the land is evident, his materials at times are willow branches, ice and wood, there are installations high up in trees, in the middle of the bush, in open fields, or encircled by the Banff Centre’s Professional Development Centre. The artist’s approach is unconventional: he burns, paints, molds, carves and transforms environments and material into art works and spaces. The artist becomes proficient with the materials needed to get his point across then lets nature take its course. His is “the belief that only in being absolutely true to one’s emotional apprehension of nature can the artist hope to make compelling art (John Bentley Mays 2007).”

It's about speaking a certain language and having each one of those paintings or those sculptures just be part of the continuing dialogue. I've found my language and now I'm speaking my language.

Each piece does not necessarily relate to the previous or the next, instead they are intuitive works of memory, current thought or future concerns. Their self-referential natures not only document but also animate and enlarge the communication of the artist's continuing dialogue. Whether it is bold brush-strokes with robust impasto, marked pieces of charred wood, or fine etchings, Peter von Tiesenhausen's art is a concentration of expression.

“…if at the end of this life we have some deeper consciousness and wisdom, it’s been a worthwhile event and I think that is what it is all about.”

(Peter von Tiesenhausen in "Life, Art Interrelated for Alberta Artist" by Rob Alexander, Rocky Mountain Outlook, 5 February 2009, 48, 50)



Born in British Columbia, Peter moved with his family to Demmitt, Alberta, outside of Grande Prairie, Alberta. He has a strong attachment to the homestead and still lives there with his own family.

Peter has exhibited in over 45 solo exhibitions and 50 significant group exhibitions since 1990. As well he has lectured at over 75 locations including universities, colleges and public art galleries, in Canada, the US, and Europe. His work is contained in many public collections across Canada and private collections in Canada, US, and Europe. 291 Film Company, Regina, Saskatchewan produced a film on Peter and his work entitled The Forest (2005). This film is part of their Landscape as Muse Series for SCN and Bravo TV.

2016, Peter von Tiesenhausen was inducted into the Membership of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.


2015, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinquished Artist Award Recipient

- “These artists are celebrated internationally, yet maintain strong connections to Alberta that continue to feed our local arts culture,” said His Honour Col. (Ret’d) the Honourable Donald S. Ethell. “They are models of creativity, perseverance, and intelligence.”

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2015
Island and Horizon, Glenbow Museum, Calgary
2014
Experience of the Precisely Sublime, Esker Foundation, Calgary
2011
Catalyst, Willock and Sax Gallery, Banff, Alberta
2009
"Mud, Tar, and Ashes," Willock and Sax Gallery, Banff, Alberta
2008
"Crude," Gallery Lambton, Sarnia, Ontario
"Peter von Tiesenhausen," Art Space Gallery, Jackson, Wyoming
2007
"Reckongings", Michael Gibson Gallery, London, ON
"kleiner Mord", Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto, ON
2006
Convergence”,Vanderleelie Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta
2005
“The Natural and the Manufactured”, Odd Gallery, Dawson City, Yukon
“Requiem”, Two Rivers Art Gallery, Prince George, BC
“Multiple Truths”, Prairie Art Gallery, Grande Prairie, AB
2004
“Balance”, Gallery Connexion, Frederiction, New Brunswick
“Blind Faith”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
“And then the Valley fell away”, Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
“Observation Points”, “Peace River, AB”, Alberta Winter Games
“Bell”, Installation for Canada Dance Festival, Ottawa, Ontario
2003
"mecca", Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Calgary, Alberta
2001
"Figure Journey", Continuation of cross Canada drive with Figures, Kitchener, Waterloo, Ontario to Pouch Cove, Newfoundland
2000
"Return", Prairie Art Gallery, Grande Prairie, Alberta
"Vernissage", Trepanier Baer Gallery, Calgary, Alberta
"Heaven/Hell", Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, Ontario
"Figure Journey II", Event, Demmitt, AB to Hamilton, ON
"Deluge", Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta
1999
"Essentials", DeLeon White Gallery King Street W, Toronto, Ontario, DeLeon White Gallery, Yorkville location, Toronto, Ontario
1998
"Le Vaisseau D'or", Langage Plus, Alma, Quebec
"Lebenslaufe", Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna, British Columbia
"Der Lichtgott" Summer Solstice Event. Ritzi Foundation, Hohenkarpfen, Germany
1997
"Forest Figures", Stride Gallery, Calgary, Alberta, performance, Installation, and exhibition.
"Subject to Change", Deleon White Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
"Subject to Change: Barrie" MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario
1996
"Maelstrom", Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond, British Columbia
1995
"Making Myth in the Landscape", Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, Alberta
1994
"Projects", The Prairie Art Gallery, Grande Prairie, Alberta
"New Paintings", Wallace Galleries, Ottawa, Ontario
1993
Canadian Art Galleries, Calgary, Alberta
1992
"Antarctica", Heritage Gallery, Whitehorse, Yukon
1991
"Antarctica", A Prairie Painter's Impression", 2nd Floor, Manulife Place, Edmonton, AB
1990
"Disturbing the Peace", The Prairie Art Gallery, Grande Prairie, Alberta
Commissions
2001
Constellation III, Grand& Prairie Regional College, Grande Prairie, AB
2000
"Duration", Site specific sculpture, The City of Calgary Waterworks Division, Calgary, Alberta
1998
Site specific sculpture, Tho Ritzl Foundation, Trossingen, Germany
1997
Site specific sculpture, MacLaron Art Centre, Barrie. Ontario
Shortlisted, City of Richmond Public Art Project Richmond. British Columbia
1996
Site specific sculpture. Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff. Alberta
1995
Site specific sculpture, "Rur'art", Lycee Xavier Bernard, Poitier, France
Catalogues & Publications
2000
David Garneau, "Deluge", Gallery, Quarterly Publication of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Summer 2000
1998
"Auktion mit Kunst der Gegenwart zur Forderung junger Kunstler". Kunststiftung Erich Hauser, Auction Catalogue, Rottweil, Baden-Wurternburg, Germany
'Art with Heart", Casey House Foundation, Auction Catalogue, Toronto, Ontario
Clint Ronisch, "Lebenslaufe", The Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna, British Columbia
1997
M. J. Thompson, "Forest Figures", The Stride Gallery, Calgary, Alberta
Cathy Mastin and Bruce Grenville, "Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art 1996". Edmonton Art Gallery and the Glenbow Museum
Michael Bell, "The Other Alberta Sculpture". Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario
1995
Artists Catalogue, "Rewriting the Pacific: Cultures, Fronters and the Migration of Metaphors", Pacific Bridges Project, University of California, Davis, California
Monique Stupar, "Saveurs, Delices et Arts, un paroours des sons", Espace d'Art Contemporain, Lyces Agricole Xavier Bernard. Poitiers. France 1994
John K. Grande, "Balance: Art and Nature", University of Toronto Press,
1994
Katherine Lipeatt, -Reframing the Landscape, The Columbia lcefield Expedition', The Calm, Newsletter of Whyte Museum of Canadian Rockies, August 1993, Volume XVIII
1990
Chris Carson, 'Disturbing the Peace", Prairie Gallery, 1990
1989
Elizabeth Ginn, 'Turbulent Terrain', Prairie Gallery,
Selected Group Exhibitions
2001
"River City", The Edmonton Art Gallery, with Lyndal Osborne, Marlene Creates, Yolanda Gutierrez
"Open Ears", A Festival of Sound Installation, The Forsyth Factory, Kitchener. Ontario Trepanier Baer, Calgary. Alberta
2000
'Hydrogen Song", two person show with John Scott, Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener. Ontario
"Zone 6B: Art in the Environment" , Hamilton Art Gallery, Burlington Art Centre, McMaster University Gallery, Hamilton Artiets Inc., Aganetha Dyck, Fastwurms, Mike MacDonald, Reinhard Reitzenstein, Marlene Creates, Hamilton, Ontario Exhibition and workshop, Akerva Gallery, Akaroa, New Zealand
"A Walk in the Woods", Burlington Art Centre, Kai Chan, Spring Hurlbut, David Meritt, Reinhard Reitzenstsien, Burlington, Ontario
1999
'Elemental Action', The Muttart Public Art Gallery, Calgary, Alberta
1998
Group Exhibition, The Mandel, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
"Coyotes: Caught in the Headlights". The Works, Edmonton, Alberta
1997
"New Acquisitions", Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta
1996 "Site Markers", Latitude 53, Edmonton, Alberta
"Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art", Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta, The Glenbow Museum, Calgary. Alberta
"A Natural Fixation", The Works, Edmonton Centennial Library, Edmonton, Alberta
1995
"Savours, Delices Et Arts" Lyme Xavier Bernard, Poitiers, France
"The Other Alberta Sculpture", Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario
1994
"Reframing the Landscape", Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, Alberta
1993
"5th Anniversary Show", Harcourt House, Edmonton, Alberta
Grande Prairie Regional College, Grande Prairie, Alberta
1992
"New Faces", Buschien Mowett Fine Arts, Vancouver, British Columbia
1991
"Beautiful British Columbia", Diane Farris Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia
Artwalk, Canadian Art Galleries, Calgary, Alberta
1989
"Yukon Expressions", Dawson City, Yukon
"Objects and Images". British Columbia Festival of the Arts, Chilliwack, British Columbia
1988
"Yukon Expressions", Dawson City, Yukon
"Points of View'. Whitehorse, Yukon
1987
Juried Exhibition, Prairie Gallery, Grande Prairie, Alberta
1986
Juried Exhibition, Prairie Gallery, Grande Prairie, Alberta
1981
"Student Show", Alberta College of Art, Calgary, Alberta
1980
Juried Exhibition. Prairie Gallery, Grande Prairie, Alberta
1979
"Student Show", Alberta College of Art. Calgary, Alberta
Articles & Reviews
2001
David Liss, Peter von Tiesenhausen, John Scott. Canadian Art, Summer 2001
Donna White, "Inspired by Nature", Legacy, Summer 2001
2000
Thomas Hirschmann, "Plaid Trees in Canada's north", Weekend Post, August 19, 2000
Gary Michael Dault, "Round and round we go, up and down we go". The Globe and Mail, July 29, 2000
Andreas Schon, "Kunst und Natur wachsen gemeinsam", Wochenend-Journal, Schwarzwalder Bote, July 15, 2000
Dennis Smith, "Artworks popping up around town", Burlington Post, July 5, 2000
Peter O'Brien, "Rothenberg: A vital force", Globe and Mali, July 11, 2000
Sherri Telemko, "The great art scavenger hunt", The Hamilton Spectator, July 5, 2000
Gilbert Bouchard, "The Works draws art from upheaval", See Magazine, June 29, 2000
Elaine Hujer, "Walk in the Wood and give a tree a hug", Hamilton Spectator, May 5, 2000
1999
Sheila Robertson, "Forest Figures", Western People, August 19, 1999
1998
"Un artiste albertain expose a la galerie Langage Plus", Progres-Dimanche, le 4 Octobre, 1998
"Promier invite: Peter von Tiesenhausen Langage Plus fete ses 20 ans avec une programmation variee', Progres- Dionanche, le 20 September, 1998
"Gerauische wie aus dem Innern der Erde", Schwablsche Zeltung, October 12, 1998
"Die Familie wird grosser", Spalchinger Zeltung, October 12, 1998
Jean Russell. "Simply Natural". Kelowna Capital News, February 20, 1998
Paula Gustafson, "Peter von Tiesenhausen's Lobenslaufe", World Sculpture News, Spring 1998
Sheila Robertson, "Collective works stretch definition of landscape", The Star Phoenix, May 16, 1998
Fritz Schray, 'Keltischen Brauch auflodern lassen', Schwabische Zeltung, 23 June 1998
David Gameau, "Coaxing Nature", Border Crossings, July 1998
Bodo Schneckenburger, "Die Natur als Quelle und Gegenstand des Bewusstseins". Schwarzwalde Bote, 28 July 1998
David Garneau. "Foothills and Vallies", Vei des Arts, Summer Issue, 1998
Heather Elton, "Mother Nature, Artist", Equinox, September 1998. Special Commemorative Issue
1997
Deirdre Hanna, "von Tiesenhausen comes by it naturally", Now, July 3 - July 9, 1997
John Bentley Mays, "Artworks travel to Heart's Homeland", The Globe and Mail, July 17, 1997
Helen Gagnier, "Exhibit takes art to new height", The Barrie Advance, July is, 1997
Joan Richardson, "Rigours of collection, Rituals of seeing". Border Crossings, Winter
Shannon Oatway, 'Sculptures by fire", The Calgary Herald, September 3, 1997
1996
Myrna Kostash, "Taking a stand in timber country", Canadian Geographic, September/October issue
John Bentley Mays, "Keeping up with the Albertans', Globe and Mail, June 25,1996
Robin Laurence, "Peter von Tiesenhausen's field of dreams", Canadian Art Magazine, Summer 1995, Volume 13, Number 2
Michael Scott, "Inside look at art as big as all outdoors", The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, British Columbia, February 6,1996
Paula Gustafson, 'Maelstrom and River Styx", Espace Sculpture, Fall 1996, No. 37
1995
"Rur'art a Venours, Un a Artiste Canadiene au Lycee Agricole", Centre Presse, France, June 16, 1995
Odile Monoit, "Peter fait corps avec la terre". La Nouvelle Republique, France, June 14, 1995
Alan King, "Alberta Sculptors come in from cultural cold", Ottawa Citizen, March 13
1994
John Bentley Mays, "Grounded in the Land", Globe and Mail, May 28, 1994
Sheila Robertson, "Emma experience evident in show", The Star Phoenix, April 23
1993
John Bentley Mays, "Mapping the Spectrum: From Experimental to Conservative", Globe and Mail, October 1, 1993
Ron Chalmers, "Bold rugged landscapes putting Demmitt on the map", Edmonton Journal, October 1, 1993
1992
Sara Darling "Antarctic experience inspires artist", Yukon News, September 25, 1992
1991
John Bentley Mays, "Busy, busy, busy", The Globe and Mail, May 18, 1991
1990
Ron Chalmers, "Fragile Antarctica deserves to be left alone, Alberta artist says", Edmonton Journal, December 7, 1990
1988
Marina Gingrich, "The promise of GP Art", Herald Tribune, March 11, 1998
Documentaries
2001
"Peter von Tiesenhausen", Down to Earth", 23 minute documentary produced for Vision TV and Bravo
2000
"Elemental", CBC Thursdays, 53 minute documentary originally produced by Adrienne Clarkson Presents, aired Thursday, October 5, 2000, and again, Sunday, October 29, 2000, Sunday Encore.
Susequent screening of Elemental 1999
"Musee D'Art Contemporain, Montreal, Quebec, Festival des Films sur L'art, March 10, 1999
"Hot Docs", a festival of documentary films, Toronto, Ontario
"Columbus Film and Television Festival", award for best film on visual arts, Columbus, Ohio
Maison de la culture Cote-des-Neiges, Montreal, Quebec
1997
"On the Road Again", CBC Television, February 12, 1997
Interviews
2001
Carmen Klassen, Mainstreet, CBC Radio, March 23, 2001
Angela Antle, CBC Radio, March 31, 2001
Suzanne Woolridge, Arts Report, CBC Radio, April 7, 2001
1999
David Grierson, North by Northwest, CBC Radio, February 13, 1999
1996
Vicki Gabereau, CBC Radio, Vancouver, February 1, 1996
1995
Janet Dirks, Sunday Arts, CBC Radio, Calgary, September 3, 1995

"He wants to get people talking, and he doesn't want to tell them what to talk about, but he wants to give them the opportunity to talk, to question, to think about why...Harper wants us to bury culture, we'll bury culture and in the act of burying this piece, we're actually planting a seed that will ensure culture lives on forever. Von Tiesenhausen hopes by burying it, he will encourage people to talk about the arts now and in the future"

A quote from Lisa Daniels, curator Gallery Lambton - Sarnia's public gallery, on Peter von Tiesenhausen's plan to bury an iron sculpture beneath a downtown Sarnia street in reaction to Prime Minister's Stephen Harper's negative comments on art and culture in Canada. (Shawn Jeffords, "Art Gets Down and Dirty," The Sarnia Observer, 21 October 2008).

"I see myself as a Canadian working on the idea of expanding Canadian culture. And culture on an international level as well"

(Peter von Tiesenhausen in "Alberta artist takes on oil and gas industry", CBC Arts Canada-Arts News, 11 Dec. 2002)