Exhibition curator Penny Sexton interviews abstract artist Lothar Götz

Abstract artist, Lothar Götz, has created a site-specific gallery-sized work for Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception.  Lothar reveals to curator Penny Sexton how he approached the commission and how Compton Verney’s unique setting influenced his work.

PS: What is the starting point when creating a site-specific work?

LG: I start off with the visiting the building or space itself, I never know what exactly it will be. On this initial visit there is something happening, a first encounter with the room. I enter the space and imagine something in it, or I see something that is quite vague. I build up a personal relationship with the space, this is often the starting point. In order to make and do something in the space, I look at the architecture and I try to gauge the dimensions of the space. I would describe this as the design process, not starting immediately. In doing this I become the medium between the space and my work.

PS: So the room speaks to you?

LG: Yes, the room speaks to me, but I am not saying I am just meditating in here, or me relaxing in the space, or Zen Buddhism or anything like that! It’s not really spiritual, it’s quite real and has something to do with getting a feeling for the space and that has a lot to do with what’s going on there. In relation to this space, it was visiting the gardens, having a relationship with the outside, seeing the lake in the sunshine. Going around the galleries and seeing what’s going on in the whole building.

PS: Do you bring the outside in?

LG: Sometimes I do, it is an interesting façade here, and it will have some influence on what I am doing. I think with the kind of colour choices, which I have started to sketch already, is influenced from the landscape although will probably change in the summer. For me, I am not someone who would want the windows blocked. I prefer the view to be seen and don’t want to block out the windows in the room, I think it’s interesting to have two landscape ‘paintings’ in the abstract painting which I create.

PS: What happens next?

LG: The phase where I sit down and start to think, and then try to work out what I do. Then at some point I need to trust it will happen, and I start to design the work. As I said earlier, the room seems to tell me what to do.

PS: Is there a particular artist or artwork that inspires you and has influenced you in your life?

LG: There have been several over the years. Coming back to the drawing professor, he was certainly one. He was an early and important influence over me. He also introduced me to the work of Ben Nicholson, as he thought him to be interested in something similar to me. With Nicholson, it was his drawing being partly figurative and partly abstract that I could relate too. It was in Tuscany with this professor, that I began to understand how Nicholson captured the hills and then later for me were his abstracts.

Then of course for me it was artists associated with the Bauhaus like Josef and Anni Albers and Gunta Stölzl. The whole idea of what Bauhaus stood for, not just the fine art but also the architecture, the buildings were quite important. Blinky Palermo was very influential on me with his very simple colour compositions, another is Ellsworth Kelly, as well as Bridget Riley. I was quite influenced for a while by architects, especially Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, particularly his use of glass and light.

PS: If you could do anything in the world what would it be?

LG: I would love to do a complete colour project of one of Ludwig Mies van de Rohe’s amazing bungalows that were built for Hermann Lange and Josef Esters. Not just one room, but they whole house, the whole bungalow. What I like about them compared to somewhere like Compton Verney is that you can have a close relationship with these personal homes. Here, is too big for me to do the whole house, I would have the intimate ‘life’ connection I would get with either Lange’s or Esters’ bungalows. These modernist houses obsessed me as a young boy, however it would be hard to decide which one I would like to do!

Read the full interview in the exhibition’s accompanying book.  Available in the Gift Shop.  £14.50.