The curatorial and editorial project for systems, non-objective and reductive artists working in the UK

Website: Chestnuts Design

Mirror Image at Domobaal Gallery, July 2015

A review by Alan Fowler

©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock  All rights reserved.

Lothar Götz is probably best known for his large-scale and site-specific wall (and sometimes floor) paintings, which in the UK have been commissioned by organisations as varied as the Royal Festival Hall (for the Clore ballroom), the Arts Council, the House of St. Barnabas charity in Soho and the Whitechapel Gallery. An example relevant to the current Domobaal exhibition is his painting on all four walls of the gallerist’s office, which typifies the relatively simple hard-edged geometry of these works, brought to life by a painstakingly considered choice of colour.

An intriguing characteristic of this use of the architectural scale and fabric of a building as the ground for the painting is that the viewer is placed within the work itself, rather than standing outside it. The experience is one of being both within a building and inside an artwork, each of these aspects interacting with the other.

Lothar Gotz:  wall painting in Domobaal Gallery office

Mirror Image, however, showcases a different aspect of Götz’s practice and one which relates to a large body of drawings that have been seen more widely in galleries in Germany than in the UK. (Götz was born in Germany in 1963 and studied art in Aachen and Wuppertal before coming to the UK and obtaining an MA at the Royal College of Art in 1998. He is now a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Sunderland University).  The imagery of his drawings, some of which have been produced in print editions, consists, in the main, of closely packed sets of straight lines drawn in coloured pencil, often creating a shimmering or dynamic effect, which counteracts what might otherwise have been seen as somewhat static. This is poetic geometry, which without the use of curves or shading, is achieved by Götz’s intense and imaginative attention to colour. His concern for the impact of colour on the viewer’s intuitive perception provides a link between the works in Mirror Image and those in his wall paintings.

Lothar Götz untitled drawing, pencil on paper, 29 x 21 cms

The title of the current exhibition at Domobaal refers to the two images which form the basic structure of the works in the show. These consist of two 59 x 44 cm rectangles, each divided by a diagonal, with lines radiating from two nodal points on the diagonals. Each image is the mirror image of the other.

Lothar Götz: monoprint lithographs in Mirror Image series

These two images form the basic structure for a set of 34 lithographs, all pulled from two litho stones, and all – as monoprints – unique in their colourways. Two colours are used in each image, one for the ground, the other for the radiating lines, and the ground colours are different for each image. There seems to be a little less variation in the colours of the lines, with grey being used in a number of them, although in other images the line colours include yellow, white, and black.

Twenty-two of these litho’ed monoprints form the principal subject of this exhibition and are hung, like a frieze, around the four walls of the gallery. For the viewer, this creates a somewhat similar effect in the architectural space as do Götz’s wall paintings. Standing in the centre of the room, you become aware that you are inside a work of art, and that, surrounded by these images, they are, as it were, colouring your experience of being in this particular space. Seeing a large number of very similar works together can, as in the current Agnes Martin exhibition at Tate Modern, seem little more than repetitive, and may even detract from the overall viewing experience.  But here, the diversity of colour gives the whole group of works a refreshing and coherent visual impact as the otherwise identical images ‘talk to each other’ across the room.

But if these prints work as a group, how do they stand as single artworks? After all, it is very unlikely that anyone would buy the whole set, and they are being offered for sale individually. The question is complicated by the gallery also showing a smaller editioned print, in which the diagonal is replaced by a vertical line.

Lothar Götz: House for Karl, 2014, lithograph, 18” z 12”, edition of 25

The linear image in the monoprints and in this editioned lithograph is certainly pulsing with energy and movement – emphasised in the monoprints by the dominance of the diagonal. It has visual power fully adequate to stand on its own as a dynamic expression of abstract energy, and for this reviewer is most satisfying in black (or dark grey) and white. Some of the colour variations in the monoprints, such as light grey lines on a pale yellow ground, seem to soften or dilute the acuity of the linear image. With the monoprints, too, one aspect of their visual interest is the concept of the mirror image – lost completely if one’s attention is limited to any single work. Perhaps anyone considering a purchase would benefit most by buying a mirrored pair, to highlight the left and right orientation of the mirrored image.

For me, I find the diagonalised image of the monoprints almost too restless, and I prefer the more stable visual quality of the vertically divided structure of the editioned print. But in both cases there is a quality which brings a human touch to an image which might otherwise have risked appearing as overly mechanically precise. This is the variation in the thickness of the lines and in the gaps between them. Although it is obvious that these lines have been drawn with a ruler, the hand of the artist is evident in the differences in the quality of the lines themselves and in the varying spaces between them. These are not abstracts which try to eliminate traces of the maker, as the constructivists have aimed to do.  They are clearly the product of the mind and hand of an artist who has his own, uniquely personal concept of the interaction of form, line, colour and space.